Nebraska and Delaware legislatures repeal efforts, the Boston Marathon bombing sentencing, U.S. Supreme court debates lethal injection in the Glossip case.
OADP Annual Meeting and Banquet June 12th
In the past OADP might have been accused of holding its annual meeting only because it was required by the regulations governing 501-C3 non-profit organizations. Things are different now. We have lots to celebrate, lots to talk about and lots to get energized about. The 2015 annual meeting will take place on June 15th at the Keizer Civic Center.
We will celebrate unprecedented growth in the organization; we will talk about plans for the future; and we will get energized by a keynote speaker with an illustrious career as an actor, author and important activist in the abolition movement... Mike Farrell.
While known best for that popular M.A.S.H. character, Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt, his other credits and accomplishments are impressive. He also has acting credits in the TV series "Providence," "The Interns," and "The Man and The City." Mike also co-hosted the PBS special "Saving the Wildlife" and the "Best of the National Geographic's Special." A little known, but powerful role was the voice of Jonathon Kent in the animated TV series Superman and "The Last Son of Krypton" Superman movie.
Author of "Just Call Me Mike: The journey of actor and activist," Mike Farrell has distinguished himself out of the celebrity spotlight with numerous awards and citations as well. His work in criminal justice, environmental issues, children's rights, immigration issues, and animal rights have been honored, awarded and acknowledged. A key position that links Mr. Farrell to Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is his position as President of Death Penalty Focus, the California group leading the efforts to abolish that state's death penalty.
Joining Mr. Farrell as a speaker will be Danielle Fulfs, Program Director of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Ms. Fulfs began exploring the issues with the death penalty during her Honors Seminar at Loyola University in Chicago. Following her BA, she continued on the track of social justice and human rights issues while pursuing her MA at the University of Chicago. She is excited to be part of our OADP annual meeting and discussion of a "clean sweep" of the death penalty on the West Coast.
Also, on the program to speak is Becky O'Neil McBrayer, Program Manager at St. Andre Bessette Church in downtown Portland. Ms. McBrayer is a member of Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation, a national organization of murder victim family members who speak out with a profound message against the death penalty.
Emcee for the evening's activities will be Emily Plec, Professor of communications studies at Western Oregon University, a member of the OADP Advisory Council, the OADP Correspondence Committee and the national organization PCARE (Prison Communications, Activism, Research and Education). In addition to being a passionate abolitionist, she is an animal lover who enjoys hiking, reading, traveling, sports, Pinot Noir and dark chocolate. Professor Plec lives in Dallas, Oregon.
The event is set for Friday, June 12th, at the Keizer Civic Center. Tickets for the evening are $40 and are still available online at oadp.org, or by calling (503) 990-7060. Tables of eight can be reserved and sponsored tables will be recognized in the evening's program. A reception for ticket holders to meet Mike Farrell will begin at 5PM at the Keizer Civic Center. Dinner begins at 6PM, followed by the program.
Nebraska lawmakers debate in Lincoln, Neb. on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, before overriding Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a death penalty repeal bill. [Nati Harnik / AP]
Nebraska has become the 19th state to repeal their death penalty.
The "conservative" Republican unicameral legislature in Nebraska got it right! On May 20, by a 32-15 margin, a death penalty repeal bill passed. This was the third vote in this session and the "yes" votes were consistently favorable in each round of voting. Following the final vote, Governor Pete Ricketts stated he would veto the legislation and began a strenuous effort to get senators to change their vote. To override a veto 30 votes were required.
The May 27th vote to override was 30 for repeal and 19 for retaining their death penalty, therefore Nebraska becomes the seventh state since 2006 to get rid of the death penalty. There are now 19 states without a death penalty. Considering that ten more states that still have a death penalty, have not had an execution in more than five year means that the majority of American states are not currently in the business of executing convicted inmates.
OADP gives a big shout out to Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Stacy Anderson, their Executive Director, who has worked for many years to achieve this great victory. It is a victory for NADP, the citizens of Nebraska, their legislature and the national abolition movement.
In a statement by Robert Dunham, executive director of Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., he wrote, "The conservative Republicans' position as expressed in Nebraska are basically a microcosm of what is going on with conservatives about the death penalty nationwide. Fiscal, procedural and religious concerns are driving the shift of attitudes".
Having Nebraska join New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland, the states that have repealed their death penalty laws within the past decade, gives the national movement another boost.
OADP board member and former Superintendent at the Oregon State Penitentiary, Frank Thompson, recently spoke to the Nebraska legislature. Hearing the news, Mr. Thompson stated, "It really pleases me to see the turn of events in Nebraska. They have looked at capital punishment as a failed public policy." He continued, "there was wide support from conservatives in their legislature for insistence on positive evidenced -based outcomes as a reason for their vote . I was honored to have been asked to speak and most pleased with the outcome."
Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is proud of Frank and his continued contribution to the death penalty debate here in Oregon and across the country.
Three new members have been added to the OADP Advisory Council. The Council is a very important and valuable part of our grassroots efforts. The members are of great assistance by providing sage counsel, networking and participating in OADP events. They do these extraordinary things without the need to attend any meetings.
We welcome Marilyn Callahan, who has worked for 60 years as a social worker. The Oregon chapter of the National Association of Social Workers gave her a "Lifetime Recognition Award" in 2006 for her exemplary and pioneering work in sex offender rehabilitation.
At 80, she still facilitates three groups every week at Salem's medium security prison in her volunteer work by helping violent offenders understand their behavior and providing the skills necessary to become trustworthy citizens. Later this year she will finish a book about what constitutes successful treatment of sex offenders. This rehabilitative work is in line with the alternatives that OADP seeks. Repealing the death penalty will save taxpayers money that will be well spent on expanding programs like Marilyn's. In saving taxpayers money by repealing the death penalty, programs like these that Marilyn leads can be expanded.
As an Advisory Council member she has already been helpful in securing the endorsement of her Oregon NASW chapter.
The second new recruit to our Council is Ron Glaus, Ph.D. He is a licensed psychologist in private practice and has worked as a VA hospital mental health counselor and as a college counselor, He retired as the Chief of the Psychology Department at the Oregon State Hospital.
Currently, his practice has a focus on forensic psychology, primarily involving evaluations of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. He is an active volunteer with community disaster response organizations and in search and rescue functions. He has researched and written about mental health and forensic issues and in 2014 published a book about the psychology of search and rescue.
Ron currently advocates for an improved "continuity of care system" for the mentally ill who become engaged in the criminal justice system. He regards involvement in OADP as an "enlightened approach to criminal justice."
The newest addition to the Council is Cait Boyce from Central Oregon. Cait is a legal professional and prisoner rights advocate with nearly four decades of experience working on behalf of non-violent offenders. A four-time cancer survivor, she is a true believer in the ability of convicted criminals to achieve lasting rehabilitation.
An accomplished writer, Boyce co-authored the critically acclaimed book American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, which documents her decades-long legal effort to free convicted spies Christopher Boyce and Andrew Dalton Lee. The book also details her numerous bouts against life threatening illness.
Cait is the CEO and founder of The Center for Restorative Justice, an organization whose mission is to break down prison walls by facilitating open lines of communication between criminal offenders, their victims and the community. She lives in Terrebonne and has offices in Sisters.
Tale of Three Cases: Victim family members must be heard
Courtroom sketch of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev beside U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. -- AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins
On May 13, 2015, a jury in Seattle sentenced Joseph McEnroe, who was convicted of six murders, to life in prison instead of imposing the death penalty. Two days later, a Boston jury returned a death sentence in the Boston Marathon bombing case for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Those two cases will now follow much different courses.
Mr. Tsarnaev's case will be subject to multiple appeals. Each new filing will result in extensive renewed press coverage. Each news story will focus on what Mr. Tsarnaev, who has already appeared on the cover of several national publications, is doing now and then repeat the awful details of his crime.
Mr. McEnroe will be transferred to a prison where he will live the rest of his life forgotten by the media. His legal proceedings will be over and done.
After the jury returned a life without parole verdict for Mr. McEnroe, the mother of one and grandmother of two of his victims said she and her husband were happy about the verdict "because we don't ever have to deal with it again." "It'll be probably better for everybody involved to be able to just kind of put the McEnroe part of this case away," she said.
That won't be possible for the victims of Mr. Tsarnaev. Bill and Denise Richards, whose 8-year old son was murdered whose 7-year old daughter was maimed by Tsarnaev, called on the Government to withdraw the death penalty—a request that was not heard by the Boston jury. They wrote that "the continued pursuit of that punishment will bring years of appeals "and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring."
Here in Oregon, on May 7, 2015, Jesse Fanus was sentenced to life without parole after 17 years of costly litigation following his original death sentence. The prosecutor told reporters: "Under this agreement, Fanus will have no legal avenue to seek release, and will die in prison."
The common thread in these three cases is obvious. Pursuit of the death penalty is costly, both economically and psychologically speaking. Life without parole is a better alternative.
Seldom is the national media as filled with stories about the death penalty as they have been in recent weeks. Repeal efforts in both the Nebraska and Delaware legislatures, the Boston Marathon bombing sentencing, and the as the U.S. Supreme court deals with the topic of lethal injection in the Glossip case, the time is fertile to provoke discussion on the death penalty. An intense spotlight is shown on the lethal injection topic with the June issue of the Atlantic magazine in a major article by Pulitzer prize-winning writer Jeffery E. Stern.
Stern's article is compelling. When you read the article you will wonder what our local pharmacist must be thinking about the death penalty. It can be found on the www.oadp.org web site or by going to the internet link shown above.
The leading association for pharmacists in the United States has instructed its members to stop providing drugs for use in lethal injections, a change that could make carrying out executions even more difficult for death penalty states. Late last month, delegates of the American Pharmacists Association approved a declaration saying the organization "discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care." The association, which has more than 62,000 members, is responsible for determining pharmacists' ethical standards, but cannot legally force its decisions. Pharmacists now join physicians and anesthesiologists in having national organizations with ethical codes that discourage their members from partaking in executions.
The Oregon State Pharmacy Association is a part of the national organization and has taken the same position urging members not to participate in executions in any way. OADP asks that all of our member and supporters take the simple, but important, action of taking a copy of this article to your own local pharmacy and sharing it with the pharmacist on duty. If enough of us do that, asking their association and employers to speak out against executions, we can make a major contribution to moving the public opinion polls in favor of repeal.
Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Oregon. The first execution under the territorial government was in 1851. Capital punishment was made explicitly legal by statute in 1864, and executions have been carried out exclusively at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem since 1904. The death penalty was outlawed between 1914 and 1920, again between 1964 and 1978, and then again between a 1981 Oregon Supreme Court ruling and a 1984 ballot measure. Since 1904, about 60 individuals have been executed in Oregon. Aggravated murder is the only crime subject to the penalty of death under Oregon law.