Governor Kasich: Please Stop the Execution of Billy Slagle!

This comes from an email received on July 22nd. We urge the Ohio governor to stop the execution of Mr Billy Slagle:

Native American Billy Slagle, a pen pal of mine, is on death row for a crime he committed in 1987 when he was just 18 years old. A psychiatrist testified at trial that his emotional age was only 12. Billy’s tragic life leading up to the murder of Mari Ann Pope– a life marked by abuse, neglect, drug and alcohol abuse– explains why this young man of 18 years had not emotionally developed beyond age 12. He became already an alcoholic at the age of four. No one can blame alcoholism on a child of four years.
According to the 2011 Parole Boards’s report Joseph Wilhelm of the Federal Public Defender’s Office told the parole board that “Slagle was a broken person who had a broken brain from chemical addiction, a broken childhood from abuse and neglect and was emotionally retarded”.
A federal appellate judge said prosecutors were “most vile” during the murder trial. U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore described Slagle’s trial in CuyahogaCounty as infected with unfairness, and said his conviction should be overturned because prosecutors in Cleveland repeatedly made inflammatory comments during the trial.
Judge Moore, the only member of the panel with a Cleveland tie and former Case Western Reserve University law professor, was highly critical of remarks prosecutors made that portrayed Slagle, an American Indian, “as a nonbeliever or a believer of dubious faith.”
U.S. Circuit Judge John Rogers, who delivered the majority opinion, said 15 improper comments were made during the trial, but found none were strong enough to cause a miscarriage of justice.
Some of the comments included statements that Slagle “has no conscience” and that his life “has been one big lie” and that he was “one of the greatest threats against community and civilization.” The prosecutors also belittled defense witnesses, calling one expert on alcoholism a person who offered “only liberal quack theories.”
I was sorely shocked to get to know that Ohio Parole Board recommended in a unanimous vote in 2011, that the Governor of Ohio should deny Billy Slagle’s clemency request.
After a stay of all executions in Ohio from 2011 to 2013 – due to juridical problems with a new execution protocol – the Ohio Parole Board voted 6-4 to turn down a new request for clemency for Billy Slagle on July 16th, 2013, despite the mitigating circumstances, although even Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty asked the Ohio Parole Board to recommend clemency to the Governor of Ohio to commute Billy Slagle’s death sentence to life without parole. I endorse his request wholeheartedly taking into account the mitigating circumstances of Native American Billy Slagle who was a teenager and chronic alcoholic when he committed the crime.
Billy Slagle is not the teenager anymore who committed a crime in 1987. Billy Slagle is no alcoholic anymore. He is a grown-up kind man who has spent more than the half of his lifetime on death row. He has changed entirely, and feels deep remorse for the crime that he committed as a juvenile of 18 years. 

“I’m neither inherently evil nor a bad person, but rather someone that has made a terrible mistake and wishes that I could take that night all back,” Billy Slagle wrote in a statement to the board in 2011. I know my friend Billy deserves the mercy of the Governor of Ohio!
Please ask Governor Kasich to stop the execution of my friend Billy despite the denial of the request to recommend clemency to him by 6 members of the Board!
Remembering the words of the New Testament “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40) I am imploring Ohio to show clemency to Native American Billy Slagle! 

Please urge Governor Kasich to spare the life of Native American Billy Slagle!

Thank you. 

Free the Scott Sisters: Grace calling Mississippi.

Hey Friends of Justice out there:
Don’t let Governor Barbour leave Jamie and Gladys to die in prison.

This week is a pretty critical time for folks to be contacting the Governor of Mississippi to implore him to pardon Jamie and Gladys Scott. I’m posting one of the more recent news editorials detailing their struggle below. You can also hit their mom’s blogspot for more info (Evelyn Rasco – such a beautiful soul – is their mom; Nancy Lockhart and Sis Marpessa are their champions). Be prepared for some awesome gospel, blues, and soul to stream through when you open it (that means crank up your speakers, not turn them down)!


The conditions of the prison they’re in – particularly the trailer where Jamie receives dialysis treatments (when the machine is working, that is) are horrendous – but you needn’t make reference to that in your communication with Governor Barbour’s office about the pardon – there’s an appropriate contact for that below.

If you’re a registered Republican – even from outside of Mississippi – please share that with Governor Barbour in your letter, as the man will likely be running for national office in 2012. It would help for him to know that real Republicans are interested in seeing that Americans are capable of delivering both justice and mercy when we’ve been wrong…

Here’s the info to reach Governor Haley Barbour (visit that link, first, to get to know a little about him):

Honorable Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205

1-877-405-0733

You may also want to put something on letterhead and e-mail it as an attachment to the governor’s personal assistant – Dorothy Kuykendal:


Jamie Scott (center) with Mom and brother.

Also, check out this recent post and please contact the Mississippi health department regarding the black mold, toilets in Quick Bed and inadequate infrastructure in this dialysis trailer which are all located at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi. There are a lot of lives at stake – the survival rates for sick Mississippi prisoners have plummeted in recent years under the current health care provider, Wexford – Mother Jones did an excellent piece on this in March.

Jeffrey K. Brown, Ph.D., R.P.E., B.C.E.
Bureau Director
State Public Health Entomologist
Mississippi State Department of Health
570 East Woodrow Wilson Avenue
Jackson, Mississippi 39216

601.576.7972 Office
601.576.7632 Fax
769.257.2242 Cell


Here’s the latest article giving some background on Jamie and Gladys. Please take action on their behalf THIS WEEK.

———-From the Seattle Times via Free The Scott Sisters———-

Sisters may or may not be guilty, but Mississippi assuredly is

Leonard Pitts Jr.
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let’s assume they did it.

Let’s assume that two days before Christmas in 1993, a 22-year-old black woman named Jamie Scott and her pregnant 19-year-old sister Gladys set up an armed robbery. Let’s assume these single mothers lured two men to a spot outside the tiny town of Forest, Miss., where three teenage boys, using a shotgun the sisters supplied, relieved the men of $11 and sent them on their way, unharmed.

Assume all of the above is true, and still you must be shocked at the crude brutality of the Scott sisters’ fate. You see, the sisters, neither of whom had a criminal record before this, are still locked away in state prison, having served 16 years of their double-life sentences.

It bears repeating. Each sister is doing double life for a robbery in which $11 was taken and nobody was hurt. Somewhere, the late Nina Simone is moaning her signature song:

“Mississippi Goddam.”

For the record, two of the young men who committed the robbery testified against the sisters as a condition of their plea bargain. All three reportedly received two-year sentences and were long ago released. No shotgun or forensic evidence was produced at trial. The sisters have always maintained their innocence.

Observers are at a loss to explain their grotesquely disproportionate sentence. Early this year, the Jackson Advocate, a weekly newspaper serving the black community in the state capital, interviewed the sisters’ mother, Evelyn Rasco. She described the sentences as payback for her family’s testimony against a corrupt sheriff. According to her, that sheriff’s successor vowed revenge.

You don’t have to believe that to believe this: Mississippi stands guilty of a grievous offense against simple decency.

But there is hope. Recently, the sisters’ cause has been championed by high-powered allies. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and the NAACP have called on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to pardon the two women. I add my voice to theirs.

I have no way of knowing if the Scott sisters’ fate is tied in to some sheriff’s revenge and at some level, the question is moot. Whatever the proximate cause of this ridiculous sentence, the larger cause is neon clear: the Scott sisters are black women in the poorest state in the union. And as report after report has testified, if you are poor or black (and God help you if you are both), the American justice system has long had this terrible tendency to throw you away like garbage. Historically, this has been especially true in the South.

If you doubt it, play with the scenario in your head. Try to imagine some rich white girl doing double life for an $11 robbery. You can’t.

But then, that girl has access to a brand of justice unavailable to women like Jamie and Gladys Scott. She will receive every break the law allows her and maybe a few it does not. No one will throw her away.

And while it would be nice to think this problem of discarding people’s lives would be solved by the release of the Scott sisters, the truth is, that wouldn’t even address it.

How many other Scott sisters and brothers are languishing behind bars for no good reason, doing undeserved hard time on nonexistent evidence, perjured testimony, prosecutorial misconduct or sheer racial or class bias?

So fixing the problem the Scott sisters represent involves nothing less than the reformation of the justice system, a commitment to make it, as the name implies, a system that reliably produces “justice” as opposed to these too frequent miscarriages thereof.

Meantime, Jamie Scott, who is in her late 30s now, is in poor health. She is said to be losing her vision and both her kidneys have failed. And we wait for common sense to take hold in Mississippi.

It is a situation that shocks the senses, even if we assume they did it.

Now, assume they did not.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: lpitts@miamiherald.com

From: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/2013477385_pitts21.html

Free the Scott Sisters: Grace calling Mississippi.


Hey Friends of Justice out there:
Don’t let Governor Barbour leave Jamie and Gladys to die in prison.




This week is a pretty critical time for folks to be contacting the Governor of Mississippi to implore him to pardon Jamie and Gladys Scott. One of the more recent news editorials detailing their struggle is already posted below. You can also hit their mom’s blogspot for more info (Evelyn Rasco – such a beautiful soul – is their mom; Nancy Lockhart and Sis Marpessa are their champions). Be prepared for some awesome gospel, blues, and soul to stream through when you open it (that means crank up your speakers, not turn them down)!


The conditions of the prison they’re in – particularly the trailer where Jamie receives dialysis treatments (when the machine is working, that is) are horrendous – but you needn’t make reference to that in your communication with Governor Barbour’s office about the pardon – there’s an appropriate contact for that below.


If you’re a registered Republican – even from outside of Mississippi – please share that with Governor Barbour in your letter, as the man will likely be running for national office in 2012. It would help for him to know that real Republicans are interested in seeing that Americans are capable of delivering both justice and mercy when we’ve been wrong…


Here’s the info to reach Governor Haley Barbour (visit that link, first, to get to know a little about him):

Honorable Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205


1-877-405-0733
governor@governor.state.ms.us


You may also want to put something on letterhead and e-mail it as an attachment to the governor’s personal assistant – Dorothy Kuykendal:

DKuykendall@governor.state.ms.us

Jamie Scott (center) with Mom and brother.



Also, check out this recent post and please contact the Mississippi health department regarding the black mold, toilets in Quick Bed and inadequate infrastructure in this dialysis trailer which are all located at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi. There are a lot of lives at stake – the survival rates for sick Mississippi prisoners have plummeted in recent years under the current health care provider, Wexford – Mother Jones did an excellent piece on this in March.

Jeffrey K. Brown, Ph.D., R.P.E., B.C.E.
Bureau Director
State Public Health Entomologist
Mississippi State Department of Health
570 East Woodrow Wilson Avenue
Jackson, Mississippi 39216


601.576.7972 Office
601.576.7632 Fax
769.257.2242 Cell


jeffrey.brown@msdh.state.ms.us
www.healthyms.com

Executing Mercy: Saving Teresa Lewis.

I received word tonight that the Governor of Virginia has declined to grant clemency to Teresa Lewis, a mentally-impaired woman who was sentenced to death for murders she took full responsibility for planning, but did not perpetrate. The men who actually did the killing got life in prison, instead. Below is my effort to appeal to what he has said his faith is, responding to what Teresa has declared hers to be, in hopes that it helps when joined with others.

Please go to his website and leave your own message – not just a name to be counted against the many more who will register their support for the death penalty in his state, but a voice that might move him to reverse this grim decision. Whatever or whomever she is a channel for, Teresa has been a blessing to other women doing time, and could continue to be so.

You needn’t be “born again” yourself – or even speak the same language – to try to save this woman’s life. I honestly don’t know what it will take – if anything at all will work a miracle with this man. I do think that it matters in the greater scheme of things that we take the time nevertheless, to show that we care.

Teresa is to be executed on September 23, so please act today.

Thanks,

Peg.

—————————–

Subject: Executing Mercy

Dear Governor McDonnell,

As you know, Teresa Lewis is scheduled for execution on September 23, 2010. Only you can stop this from happening. She has taken more responsibility for her conduct than most adults ever do, though she has the cognitive abilities of a child.

For centuries people with developmental disabilities have been treated as less-than human; objects of ridicule or curiosity; subjects for experiments and involuntary sterilization; workers to be exploited at slave-wages; scapegoats to carry the burden of our collective failings.

We’ve come a long way in recent decades in how we treat the mentally disabled. Our readiness to execute them, however, indicates that we still have a ways to go.

Virginia has a precious opportunity to secure a place in history by deciding not to dispose of the life of this humble woman who has given of herself to others at a time of their deepest remorse and despair, despite her own predicament.

Teresa is not the one begging you to spare her life – we are. By her faith, her death on earth will reunite her with the Christ in Heaven whose love she is clearly a vessel for now to other women in prison.

What message will carrying out her execution deliver? That there is no room in American justice for mercy, or in the human spirit for transformation, or in the hearts of our people for grace?

We aren’t asking you to end the death penalty in Virginia, or to save this woman’s soul – the latter has already been done. She will die more free than many who demonstrate twice her mental capacity. We’re simply asking you to be a vessel of God, too.

His justice would not exact more of her than of those “normal” men who committed the actual murders. His justice would not value her life less than theirs. He would look across this country at the countless Americans who have taken the time out of their lives to fight for hers, and hope that humanity is on the precipice of learning mercy for the condemned – particularly for those who are so visibly touched by His grace.

Teresa Lewis committed a horrible crime that she cannot compensate her victims for, even by surrendering her own existence, as she did the day she took responsibility for what she had done. If given life in prison she would not harm another human being again, and could even help others heal. It is not her who threatens us any longer – it is our need for vengeance that endangers this nation now.

It takes power to exercise mercy which – throughout the course of human history – has been the quality that distinguishes those who conquer from those who lead. Please reconsider your decision to allow this execution to proceed.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Margaret J. Plews
Phoenix, AZ

Justice can also be administered as Mercy.

(originally posted at the Prison Abolitionist February 1, 2010).

——–

Got the heads up on this NYT article from the UNSHACKLE List-serve. They are worth subscribing to. I’ll follow up with what’s happening regarding compassionate release in Arizona soon. Maybe these cases should be sent back to sentencing judges – I bet a lot would reconsider how much time they gave someone if they knew what the outcome would be – even judges in Arizona.

——————-

Law Has Little Effect on Early Release for Inmates

COXSACKIE, N.Y. — With his swollen legs and a throaty rasp that whistles like a kettle through his broken teeth, Eddie Jones is an unlikely man to make history.

He is 89 and dying, a former loan shark who, at 69, shot another man dead on a Harlem street in what he claimed was self-defense. Now he is serving a sentence of 25 years to life in a prison hospital bed in this upstate town, riddled with heart disease and probably cancer, though his doctors are not certain about the cancer because Mr. Jones has refused most every medical test.

Mr. Jones’s original parole date was in 2015, but he stands to go free in the coming weeks under a new state law that makes chronically as well as terminally ill inmates eligible for early release. Inmates must be deemed physically or cognitively unable to present a threat to society.

The law, passed with the state budget last April, expanded the eligibility list to add those convicted of violent crimes including second-degree murder (like Mr. Jones), first-degree manslaughter and sex offenses, so long as the ailing inmates have served half their time.

But despite fanfare within the corrections field about the humanitarian and financial benefits of compassionate release — New York is one of a dozen states that have expanded, enacted or streamlined programs over the past two years — the policy shift has had minimal effect. Experts attribute this to the fear that freed inmates, no matter how sick, might commit further crimes, as well as to the difficulty of placing dying criminals in nursing homes.

“The problem is, when we start trying to put people out, there are others in the community who are sure we’re trying to make more crime in the community,” said Dr. Lester Wright, chief medical officer for the New York State Department of Correctional Services. “We’re also competing for beds. Some people think my patients aren’t as valuable as other people in society.”

The embrace of compassionate release comes as the nation’s prison population is at a historic high — 1.6 million people as of 2008, according to the Justice Department — compounded by a surge in aging and sick inmates serving longer sentences. In 2008, there were 74,100 inmates age 55 and older, a 79 percent increase from 1999. New York estimates the cost of caring for a gravely ill inmate at $150,809 a year.
Once released, they are usually cared for by family members or placed in nursing homes or hospices, their expenses largely covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

But while the new state guidelines led to a rise in applications for medical parole — 202 inmates last year, compared with 66 in 2008 — they have hardly led to more releases. Mr. Jones would, in fact, be the first freed under the new guidelines (the seven inmates released last year were eligible under the old rules).
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 39 states had compassionate release programs, but many of them also have minimal impact.

In California, where federal judges ordered the state to cut the prison population by 40,000, three people were granted compassionate release last year. In Alabama, where prisons are at double their capacity, four sick inmates were let out on compassionate release in the 2009 fiscal year; 35 other prisoners in Alabama died while their applications were being reviewed.

Since New York adopted medical parole in 1992, at the height of the AIDS crisis, 364 people have been released.

“Medical parole was designed to consider the humanitarian needs of inmates as well as the safety of the community,” said Brian Fischer, commissioner of the State Department of Correctional Services. “Anybody can tell us they want medical parole, but the numbers who qualify are going to be a lot smaller than the ones who want it.”

Advocates for prisoners argue that fear of recidivism is unreasonable, especially for convicts close to death. Corrections officials said during the 18 years the program in New York has been in effect, three medically paroled inmates have ended up back in prison, none for violent crimes.

“Politicians and high-level officials and bureaucrats don’t want to be accused of being soft on crime, even if the prisoners are terminally ill and there’s no possible risk to public safety,” said Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, a prison advocacy group. 

Indeed, the release last summer in Scotland of a sick Libyan man convicted in the bombing of an airplane over Lockerbie created an international furor. Last fall, anger over New York’s new law erupted when Gregory Felder, who was convicted of murdering a Radio Shack employee on Long Island in 2004 and is now gravely ill, was considered for parole. (He was turned down; and a legislative loophole that had made him eligible despite having not yet served half his sentence was subsequently closed.)

Other cases have unfolded far from the public glare. Cinderella Marrett, 74, who was caught at Kennedy International Airport in 2007 smuggling cocaine in her girdle — to offset medical expenses, her daughter said — was released in May 2009. Stricken with cancer, she is living in a nursing home in the Bronx.

Since 2005, at least 16 New York inmates have died while waiting for the parole board to decide their fate.

Timothy McGowan, a once-burly high school dropout from Deer Park, N.Y., spent half of his 50 years behind bars for 11 felony convictions, including robbery and second-degree manslaughter. By the time he was thrown back in prison for a parole violation in April 2009, cancer was consuming his lungs, whittling away his body and creeping up his brain stem.

In July, when Mr. McGowan could barely walk, his prison doctors applied on his behalf for compassionate release; his final wish was to have one last cup of tea with his mother in their Long Island home. Instead, he died at the Fishkill Correctional Facility on Nov. 7, two days before the parole board was to hear his case.
Among the prisoners in New York newly eligible but denied release last year was Sergio Black, 38, a former Marine who said he had fought in the first gulf war.

Mr. Black was convicted in 2005 of raping his former companion, which he denied. In 2006, his spinal cord was injured in a prison basketball game. Now a quadriplegic in the Walsh Regional Medical Unit of the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, N.Y., Mr. Black is a “poster boy for medical parole,” according to his lawyer, Stephen Dratch, because it would be difficult for him to commit another physical crime. But the parole board rejected his application, saying Mr. Brown “exhibited little or no insight or remorse for the victim.”

Mr. Jones, the near-nonagenarian and former loan shark known by his hospice aides as the Harlem Knight, was supposed to go before the parole board in December, but the hearing was pushed back twice because the court had not yet sent a transcript from his sentencing. His next scheduled parole date is next month, and he remains bedridden in the hospice at the Coxsackie state prison.

A long-lost niece, Marcy Jones, who lives in Washington, has poured her heart into pushing corrections officials and the governor’s office to grant the parole. She is optimistic enough that she has bought her uncle a new wardrobe and has set up a battery of medical appointments for him.

“Once I get him out, I’m going to advocate for others,” Ms. Jones said. “There are other Uncle Eddies out there.”