Russ Feingold

It's just really tragic that after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years, we can't leave behind something as primitive as government sponsored execution.

-Russ Feingold

Aberon Waugh

The main objection to killing people as a punishment...is that killing people is wrong.

-Aberon Waugh

Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.

-Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun

John Donne

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

-John Donne

Helen Prejean

Government... can't be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of it's citizens to kill.

-Sister Helen Prejean

December 2015 Update Newsletter

OADP Update Newsletter

In this issue...

Volume XII, No. 4
December 2015

Investing in our growth and progress

As we grow, the opportunities to do even more also present themselves.

Oregon's Justice Reinvestment Act and "Smart" Solutions for Criminal Justice

Viable alternatives to the death penalty that work, are less costly, and bring life.

Evangelical shift show conservatives' concerns about the death penalty

Fiscal and religious conservatives are moving away from DP support.

Advisory Council valuable component in repeal efforts

The Advisory Council is of enormous help as we strive to get on the ballot soon and repeal the Oregon death penalty for good.

OADP adds new board member Francisco Lopez

Lopez's community organizing and networking capabilities will be a welcomed addition to a board focused on repeal of the death penalty and alternatives that keep the public safe, while lifting up people in need of important social services.

Mark your calendar

Florida's death row Chaplain, Dale Recinella, speaking in March 2016.

Things to see and to read

Some good videos and articles:
• An award-winning short film that looks at social issues including criminal justice;
• The Marshall Project brings attention to executions and "The Next to Die";
• The death penalty abolition movement is coming out into the open through the 8th Amendment Project.

Additional national news from the DPIC

Important news articles from the Death Penalty Information Center:
• Battle Scars: Military Veterans and the Death Penalty;
• Deadliest Prosecutors, Worst Defense Lawyers Linked to High Rates of Death Sentences in Heavy-Use Counties.

Investing in our growth and progress

The growth of OADP as an organization has been quite impressive in terms of building a base of supporters, enlarging our board to 13 active volunteer members and a very impressive list of Advisory Council members, all without any paid staff. We have achieved much over the past two years in terms of outreach, hosting events, discussion groups and media exposure.

As we grow, the opportunities to do even more also present themselves. We have reached a point in our educational campaign that the volunteers on the board of directors and Advisory Council are in need of administrative help in order to maximize our impact. Moving the public opinion needle in favor of repeal is happening and we need to accelerate the efforts to continue that progress. Hiring a full-time outreach coordinator to work throughout the state to set up even more opportunities is part of our strategy for growth moving forward in 2016.

We have an important grant proposal pending and hope to hear if we will win that grant before the end of December. If we get the grant, we will immediately launch a matching fund campaign to enable OADP to hire an experienced and capable person to expand our outreach and prepare to get repeal on the ballot as soon as possible.

Our 13-member board of directors has stepped up their personal commitments to pledge $10,000. We are asking all of our Advisory Council members and supporters to also invest in this important accelerated growth plan for 2016.

Our ultimate goal is to repeal the death penalty. Doing that will create the opportunities to re-direct considerable state tax-payers' money, that is now being wasted to maintain the death penalty, into under-funded programs that really do deter violent crime and murder.

It is clearly understood that more police on the street will deter crime. OADP supports law enforcement and its greater funding. Rehabilitation of the addicted will clearly cut down on recidivism rates of the formerly incarcerated. There are programs that work to deter crime and violence. Some of the savings that will be available when the death penalty is repealed can allow for expansion of those rehab programs. Addition funding for mental health, both by state and non-governmental agencies, will also help cut crime rates. Services for murder and crime victim families are also deficient and could be expanded if we were not spending the millions of tax-payer dollars that now go toward maintaining the failed public policy that the death penalty represents.

In order to expand these programs we need to grow our repeal outreach efforts. Supporters' investments in this plan will have great impact. This is the time. We are all asked to consider a larger investment, or a first time investment, in these efforts.

If you personally, or an organizations that you are affiliated with, can make a sizable investment it will greatly assist in growing our outreach efforts and help to rid Oregon of the death penalty sooner.

Make checks out to OADP and send them to P.O. Box 2765, Salem OR. 97308. As a 501-C3 organization all funding is tax deductible. You can also give online through Pay Pal with your credit card at our website. If you would like to talk to a board member about this strategy or have suggestions on how we can improve our efforts call (503) 990-7060. The time is now. Please join us in this effort.

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Oregon's Justice Reinvestment Act and "Smart" Solutions for Criminal Justice

Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) are for many things including life. Yes, we are against executions but we are for the millions of dollars Oregon will save when it stops maintaining a costly death penalty. We are also for putting those savings to better use in the criminal justice system. Having a death penalty in Oregon is really just a costly iconic symbol of being "tough of crime" that helps some people to instinctively feel safer, but fails to deliver real safety.

The "alternatives" in our name speaks to the many ways Oregon can be "smart" or "right" on crime and safely let go of certain ineffective "tough" or "punitive" on crime approaches that are not making us safer but are overcrowding our prisons at huge expense to the taxpayer. That is why OADP supports the new developments in our penal system that have been highly successful. These developments are proving that being "smart on crime" is safer and less costly, and works better as a criminal justice model.

Following the bipartisan deep study and guidance from the 2012 Governor's Commission on Public Safety that was chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Paul DeMuniz, the 2013 Oregon Legislature passed HB 3194 which is known as the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA). Thanks to the JRA, Oregon has been able to save money by slowing the growth of the prison population, and thereby forestall the need to build a new prison in Junction City at a cost of over $100 million dollars. The JRA redirected those savings back into local criminal justice systems to help each county become more effective at preventing local crime. Chief Justice Paul DeMuniz told OADP "among other things the Justice Reinvestment Act was designed to do a better job of preventing people from re-offending while spending less money".

The Oregon Legislature took the savings from slowing the growth of the prison population and re-allocated $39.7 million in the 2015-2017 funding cycle to the counties to develop and expand local criminal justice programs that work. Ten percent of the funds have to go directly to victim services, and $1 million went to establishing a first in the nation Center for Policing Excellence. The counties are thus able to better help victims, improve policing and enhance approaches and services that help people returning to the county after serving their time in prison to lift themselves out of their criminal lifestyle and become productive citizens. The goal is to increase services to victims, develop policing, and have corrected citizens who are more productive. The result is fewer victims of violence, sexual and domestic abuse, fraud and burglary and community wellbeing. OADP is for this approach.

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, provides policy and evidence-based guidance to the legislature and criminal justice agencies, and is responsible for helping the counties to implement the JRA. The Commission's director, Mike Schmidt who is a former Multnomah County prosecutor, told OADP "Counties are doing a great job of providing programs that focus on treatment, housing, use of county jail resources all directed to reduce prison time, while investing in people by addressing the underlying conditions that cause crime".

Under JRA, each county has the freedom to direct its reinvestment dollars to the areas of its system that will add the highest value to the prevention of local crime. The counties who have been most successful so far have been able to build a collaborative team approach to wisely using these dollars and getting the most "bang from their bucks". The collaborative teams are made up of representatives from every aspect of the criminal justice system such as police, sheriffs, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, county commissioners, victim advocates and service providers, community service/treatment providers, mental health agencies, and community members. These sometime unlikely allies are learning how to work closely together to plan for, measure and implement the crime prevention strategies that will best meet the local needs.

For example, according to Director Schmidt of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, the Multnomah criminal justice collaboration is achieving great things because of the "incredible cooperation among the members of the county task force". Schmidt adds, "Their efforts have reduced prison usage by 30% by developing a system" and "they have worked hard together to achieve better outcomes for all the right reasons". Director Schmidt told us that this kind of success has also been achieved by smaller counties such as Yamhill, Josephine and Umatilla. OADP is for this "smarter" way to administer justice and prevent crime.

Justice DeMuniz explained how the JRA approach means "focusing prison beds on serious violent offenders and promoting the sustainable use of corrections resources to permit the reinvesting of realized savings on re-entry initiatives for returning prisoners. Those evidence-based, cost effective, practices like community supervision, victim services, law enforcement training and specialty courts all help to reduce crime and recidivism significantly".

Where is the Justice Reinvestment work headed? Dr. Tom O'Connor is an OADP board member and CEO of Transforming Corrections, an Oregon company that helps criminal justice agencies, nationally and internationally, to implement change strategies that result in measurable community benefits. According to Tom "Oregon is singing a new song in criminal justice that is bringing greater well-being to its citizens. Statewide and local change strategies such as the JRA, that are based on cross-agency collaboration, and the use of evidence-based and effective practices, are very complex and difficult to implement successfully. Oregon, however, is showing that this kind of positive systemic change is possible. There is a huge potential for taking the JRA approach even further into ever expanding and intersecting circles excellence for policing, prosecuting, defending, judging, correcting, serving victims and building community."

OADP is helping people to realize there are viable alternatives to the death penalty that work and are less costly. We must be "smart" on crime and "smart" on public policy. So, as an OADP supporter, tell your family, friends and legislators about this new song in Oregon and encourage them to give their full weight and voice to the movement away from approaches that bring death and toward approaches, such as JRA, that bring life.

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Evangelical shift show conservatives' concerns about the death penalty

There is a major shift taking place among conservatives in regard to the American death penalty. Conservatives have long been the core of support of state executions, but things are clearly changing.

Both fiscal and religious conservatives are moving away from support of the death penalty, voicing concerns by pointing out that the death penalty is a wasteful and expensive government program that does not make the public any safer. As conservatives learn that there is an unacceptable probability of executing innocent people along with mounting evidence that its' administration is unfair, racist and arbitrary, they are moving away from their positions of support.

Much of the support for the death penalty has come from religious conservatives. While seemingly moving at a glacial pace, there is now more open recognition that there is a shift in attitudes.

The largest coalition of evangelical Christians is the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 10 million Americans, in 45,000 congregations and 40 denominations. Recently the NAE changed its official positon from "pro death penalty" to a posture of "neutrality". In a statement by NAE President, Leith Anderson, he said. "It was time for an update and time for a change."

A sizable majority of white evangelical Protestants (71 percent) support the death penalty, according to a March 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center. That support, however, has dropped some from 77 percent in 2011. Overall, the 2015 survey suggests 56 percent of Americans support the death penalty, a drop from 78 percent in 1996.

Religious conservatives who are learning more about the American death penalty are asking the question, "Do we have the right to rob someone of the possibility of redemption?"

The previous NAE resolution, written in 1973, focused exclusively on arguments for the death penalty. Some evangelicals who support the death penalty often reference the Bible and its many Old Testament quotes such as "an eye for an eye" (Exodus 21:12) or the so called "Rule of Blood" from Genesis 9:6, "Who so sheddeth a man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed."

Biblical scholar, and author of The Biblical Truth About the American Death Penalty, Dale Recinella, points out "Over 85 per cent of (American) executions in the last 40 years have been in the Bible belt. The Bible belt has become the death belt."

Many Old Testament quotes also held up slavery in America as being justified by the Bible. The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, provides the law, while the Talmud is our source for the practices necessary to meet the requirements and spirit of the provisions set forth in the Torah. Literal interpretation of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is dangerous. Part of what was written, when literally interpreted, would get you a death penalty for being disrespectful to a parent.

"Millennial evangelicals and non-white evangelicals are driving an anti-death penalty message", said Samuel Rodriguez, who leads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. As Catholics and evangelicals work together on abortion-related issues, many evangelicals have been influenced by the recent statement against the death penalty by Pope Francis.

NAE President Anderson said that "a growing number of evangelicals are calling for government resources to be moved away from the death penalty".

Now is a time that people who consider themselves as progressive can have a real conversation with their conservative friends about a subject that we never could have had, and continue to remain friends. As we all learn more and more about the administration of the American death penalty, we may just now be coming together knowing that the death penalty is a failed public policy.

When conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia makes a quote like "I would not be surprised if the Court ends the death penalty", as he did recently at Rhodes College in Memphis, it is a big flashing light that the end of the American death penalty may be coming soon. Thanks to the conservatives for seeing that light. (Originally printed on Our-Times.org)

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Advisory Council valuable component in repeal efforts

The OADP Advisory Council is an extremely important element in the campaign to education the voters of Oregon that the death penalty should be repealed. The Council was started in the summer of 2010 and now numbers over 90 individuals who are passionate about replacing the death penalty with a better public policy, one that is "smart on crime". Members are from a wide variety of backgrounds, busy, productive people who want to help in our repeal efforts and do not want to be committed to attending regular meetings.

"No meetings, was one of the attractive things about the invitation to serve", states OADP board chair Ron Steiner. Those on the Council are willing to help in a variety of ways without the need to go to a lot of meetings. There are members of the current board who originally served on the Advisory Council, provide significant help and eventually wanted to do more and move up to the board.

Members give advice to the board, network, suggest ways to create outreach to individuals and organizations, speak and/or staff information tables at OADP functions, suggest other people who might be good additions to the movement and many provide financial support. Lawyers, law professors, academics, social service workers, former employees of the Oregon Department of Corrections, murder victim family members, faith community leaders, writers and marketing/media experts are some of the valuable backgrounds that allow members to be of such great assistance.

There are so many examples of things people do, and many suggest their own ideas that could be helpful. Peter Bergel helps to spread the word about OADP activity through his Oregon PeaceWork web site; Scott Cannon speaks at events and discussion groups; Allen Taylor makes videos of our speakers at events; Caren Ann Jackson takes photos of OADP events, Greg Zurbrugg leads the OADP effort with Facebook posting; while Cait Boyce is our Twitter expert; Emil and Elaine Graziani along with Elaine Hultengren and Tim Buckley sell and take tickets for our annual meetings; Rev. Rick Davis helps recruit faith communities from around the state to join in the abolition efforts; Nancy Hill helps to write and edit our newsletters; Marilyn Callahan helps bring in endorsements from professional organizations. These are just a few examples of the good work that Council members do to enhance the presence of OADP across the state. Space here does not permit, but we could go on and on about others who are worthy of mention. Needless to say the Advisory Council members are a key to our growth as an advocacy organization and to the effectiveness of us growing the number of supporters rallying to sign up as supporters of OADP on our website.

If the readers of this article think they too would like to engage, become more active in the movement and have ideas on how to help, please get in touch by calling (503) 990-7060. The Council is not limited in number. If readers of this article are already members of the Council but are not fully engaged because they do not know what tasks would be helpful, they should also call and we can provide some suggestions.

The repeal effort is making great progress in Oregon, led by OADP. The Advisory Council is of enormous help and will become even more important as we strive to get on the ballot soon and repeal the Oregon death penalty for good.

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OADP adds new board member Francisco Lopez


Francisco Lopez - Photo by Rosemary Ragusa

The OADP board of directors has expanded to 13 members with the addition of well-known community organizer Francisco Lopez. Mr. Lopez joins the all-volunteer board after serving a short time as a member of the OADP Advisory Council.

Lopez's experience and reputation are well known around Oregon. He currently serves as public policy, fund development, leadership development and organizing consultant to several non-profit organizations, mainly center in the Latino communities. From 2008 thru 2013 he was Executive Director of CAUSA/Oregon, a grassroots immigration rights coalition. Also on his impressive resume are stints with Catholic Charities of Portland and Catholic Community Services.

His impressive community organizing skills and outstanding networking capabilities will be welcomed on a board focused on repeal of the death penalty and alternatives that keep the public safe, while lifting up people in need of important social services.

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Mark Your Calendar

March may seem like a long way off, but as you start your new 2016 calendar, open to March 14-17 and enter the speaking tour of Florida's death row Chaplain, Dale Recinella. Chaplain Recinella is a nationally renowned speaker and author THE BIBLICAL TRUTH ABOUT THE AMERICAN DEATH PENALTY.

His tour will include several stops in Portland, Salem, Eugene and other cities around the state. Portland University and Willamette University will host two of the planned events. The full calendar of events will be finalized by early next year and will be announced via email, Face Book and Twitter, along with our March newsletter.

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Things to see and read

There are some very interesting and important things to read and to see that do not fit into a newsletter. We encourage you to take the next steps into the internet and access these three important sites that have become available in recent days.

The Last Day of Freedom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5diBuNHV75U

When Bill Babbitt realizes his brother Manny has committed a crime he agonizes over his decision- should he call the police? Last Day of Freedom, a richly animated personal narrative, tells the story of Bill's decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime and capital punishment. The film is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day – veterans' care, mental health access and criminal justice. An award-winning animated, 32 minute video available at the link above.

Marshal Project, "Next to Die"

https://www.themarshallproject.org/next-to-die

Looking back, we know quite a bit about who has been put to death in the United States. We have records that show that 1,419 people have been executed since executions resumed in 1976. But there has been no detailed, up-to-date schedule of coming executions.

The Marshall Projects "Next to Die" aims to bring attention, and thus accountability, to these upcoming executions. As impartial news organizations, The Marshall Project and its journalistic partners do not take a stance on the morality of capital punishment, but they do see a need for better reporting on a punishment that so divides Americans. Whether you believe that execution is a fitting way for society to deplore the most heinous crimes, or that it is too expensive, racially biased and subject to lethal error, you should be prepared to look it in the face.

The Most Ambitious Effort Yet To Abolish The Death Penalty Is Already Happening

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/the-most-ambitious-effort-yet-to-abolish-the-death-penalty-i#.qpdg7NEqNl

Derided this spring as "guerrilla warfare" by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the death penalty abolition movement is coming out into the open. The 8th Amendment Project's leaders talk with BuzzFeed News about why — and how they plan to win. A national effort to end the death penalty.

By Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed News Reporter

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Additional national news from Death Penalty Information Center


Battle Scars: Military Veterans and the Death Penalty

On November 10, on the eve of Veterans' Day, the Death Penalty Information Center released a new report, Battle Scars: Military Veterans and the Death Penalty. The report examines the plight of U.S. military veterans who have been sentenced to death, estimating that about 300 veterans are currently on death row. Many of these veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other mental disabilities caused or exacerbated by their time in combat. Often when these veterans were on trial facing the death penalty, their military service and related illnesses were barely presented to the jury. The first person executed in 2015, Andrew Brannan, was a decorated Vietnam veteran with PTSD, who had been granted 100% disability by the Veterans Administration. His combat trauma was largely unexplored at trial, and the Georgia Pardons Board denied him clemency.

Deadliest Prosecutors, Worst Defense Lawyers Linked to High Rates of Death Sentences in Heavy-Use Counties

Prisoners sentenced to death in the small number of U.S. counties that most aggressively pursue the death penalty often suffer the "double whammy" of getting "both the deadliest prosecutors in America and some of the country's worst capital defense lawyers," according to an article in Slate by Robert L. Smith. In reviewing the unusually high numbers of death verdicts from 3 counties that are near the top of the nation in disproportionately producing death sentences over the last 5 years, Smith found not only high rates of seeking death but a pattern of inadequate capital defense representation.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, the nation's second highest producer of death sentences since 2010, two capital trial lawyers had, between them, represented 10 clients who were sentenced to death. Serious concerns about the quality of representation were also present in the two counties with the nation's highest level of death sentences per capita since 2010, Duval County, Florida, and Caddo Parish, Louisiana. 75% of defendants sentenced to death in Caddo Parish since 2005 were represented at trial by lawyers who would be found unqualified to try capital cases under capital defense standards recently put in place in the state. One Caddo Parish lawyer, Daryl Gold, was trial counsel for nearly 20% of the people sent to death row in Louisiana from 2005 to 2014. He has been suspended from practicing law three times and received 14 private reprimands, and was permitted to continue representing poor defendants in capital cases even though he was barred from taking on private clients. In Duval County, a newly elected public defender fired respected senior capital litigators and installed as deputy chief and head of homicide defense a lawyer, Refik Eler, who has at least 8 former clients on death row - the most of any lawyer in Florida. Eler has already been found ineffective by the Florida Supreme Court in three capital cases for failing to investigate both guilt and penalty issues.

D.A. Bob Macy

Oklahoma County has executed 41 prisoners since 1976, the third highest in the country, and is among the 2% of American counties responsible for 56% of the men and women currently on the nation's death rows. A ThinkProgress report chronicles the decades-long pattern of misconduct committed under its long-time District Attorney "Cowboy Bob" Macy (pictured). Macy sent 54 people to death row during his 21 years as District Attorney, more than any other prosecutor in the U.S. in that period. "Macy would pretty much do whatever it took to win," including making inflammatory arguments and routinely withholding exculpatory evidence, says David Autry, an Oklahoma County public defender from the Macy era. 23 of the Macy capital convictions relied heavily on the testimony of disgraced police chemist Joyce Gilchrist, whom an FBI investigation in 2001 concluded had offered testimony "that went beyond the acceptable limits of science." An internal police investigation discovered that evidence in many of Gilchrist's major cases was missing, along with three years of her blood analysis files. In the case of Curtis McCarty, one of three death-row exonerees prosecuted under Macy, Gilchrist falsely testified that hairs found at the crime scene matched McCarty's and that his blood type matched the semen found on the victim's body. A later investigation revealed that Gilchrist had altered her notes to implicate McCarty and that the hairs she had tested were missing. McCarty was exonerated in 2007 after independent DNA testing excluded him as a suspect. Almost half of the 23 people who were sentenced to death in trials where Gilchrist testified were executed before their cases could be reviewed and ThinkProgress reports that as many as 38 of those Macy sent to death row have been executed.

 

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