Thanks again to everyone who participated in the TCADP Lobby Day on March 10 – it was a tremendous success! Altogether, you called and/or visited more than 30 legislative offices and made sure that your representatives are paying attention to the death penalty issue.
Yesterday, March 12, the Capital Punishment Subcommittee of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a public hearing on House Bill (HB) 682. The hearing featured powerful and compelling testimony from numerous witnesses:
Rich Woodward, an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A & M University, and Adam Gershowitz, an Associate Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law, served as resource witnesses and spoke about the costs of capital punishment. Professor Gershowitz explained why the death penalty is so expensive and addressed its particular impact on county governments. Professor Woodward described the death penalty as poor public policy in terms of its high costs and questionable deterrent effect.
· Rob Owen, a Professor from the University of Texas-School of Law, also served as a resource witness. He spoke to the subcommittee about his experience with the case of Ernest Willis, who was exonerated after 17 years on death row in Texas after new forensic evidence revealed that the arson for which he had been convicted had not actually occurred.
Martha Cotera and Ron Carlson spoke movingly against the death penalty from their perspectives as family members who have lost loved ones to murder.
Andrew Rivas, the Executive Director of the Texas Catholic Conference, and Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, CCVI, with the Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, presented the Church’s teaching on the value of all human life and spoke to the fact that the death penalty is no longer necessary as a form of punishment.
Ralph Ward spoke to the members about issues related to inadequate legal representation, while Tom Egan presented them with the “Declaration of Life,” which states that should you be the victim of a homicide, you would not want your killer to receive the death penalty.
In addition, two dozen TCADP members and allies signed in and indicated their support for the bill. We thank all those who came to the Capitol yesterday — your attendance at the hearing sent a strong message to the subcommittee that public opinion indeed is shifting on this issue.
The members of the subcommittee now will decide whether or not to refer HB 682 to the full House Criminal Jurisprudence committee for further action. We need your help to move this bill forward! Please take the following two actions as soon as possible:
1. Continue to call and fax your representative. Ask him/her to support HB 682 and to urge the full House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to consider this bill.
2. Contact the 11 members of the Committee, listed below, and ask them to give full consideration to HB 682.
Thank you again for your support and participation in this legislative campaign. Onwards to abolition!
Bob Van Steenburg
Members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
Pete Gallego (Chair), District 74 (Uvalde, Edwards, Val Verde, Terrell, Pecos, Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Ward, Reeves, Loving, Culberson, Hudspeth Counties) (also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment)
Phone: 512-463-0566; FAX: 512-263-9408
Wayne Christian (Vice Chair), District 09 (Shelby, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Sabine, Jasper Counties) (also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment)
Phone: 512-463-0556; FAX: 512-463-5896
Robert Miklos, District 101 (Dallas County-part) (also Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment)
Phone: 512-463-0464; FAX: 512-463-9295
Joseph Moody, District 78 (El Paso County-part) (also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment)
Phone: 512-463-0728; FAX: 512-463-0397
Paula Pierson, District 93 (Tarrant County-part)
Phone: 512-463-0562; FAX: 512-463-2053
Allen Fletcher, District 130 (Harris County-part)
Phone: 512-463-0661; no FAX number available
Terri Hodge, District 100 (Dallas County-part) (also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Punishment)
Phone: 512-463-0586; FAX: 512-463-8147
Carol Kent, District 102 (Dallas County-part)
Phone: 512-463-0454; FAX: 512-463-1121
Debbie Riddle, District 150 (Harris County-part)
Phone: 512-463-0572; FAX: 512-463-1908
Allen Vaught, District 107 (Dallas County-part)
Phone: 512-463-0244; FAX: 512-463-9967
Hubert Vo, District 149 (Harris County-part)
Phone: 512-463-0568; FAX: 512-463-0548
Contact information for your representative is available at https://tcadp.ejusadb.org/sites/tcadp.ejusadb.org/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=118&qid=6825.