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Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 1.29.14

          Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison, 1.29.2014.

On top of our agenda was a further discussion of the so called Fair Justice bills and the fact that meanwhile both had made it out of committee. We took note that there had been a mini second day of hearings because Representative DeMarco had not realized that Bishop Foley had been there to testify, even though he had been on the speakers list. Pleading ignorance, Bishop Foley was asked if he could return. We thank Bishop Foley for making a second trip from Birmingham to give his input. We also want to thank Senator Vivian Figures, a long time ally, who was the only senator who voted “nay” to the bill.

We appreciate our Development Officer Brandon Fountain and Attorney Jack Carney who attended the Alabama Criminal Defense Attorneys Association Convention in Birmingham where they distributed flyers and communicated with many attorneys about the Fair Justice bills.

There have been various articles in newspapers across the state about the potential impact of these bills, one of which highlighted five recent cases where this Act could have prevented justice from being done. We hope the legislators took note.

Of interest was also a recent study done in Minnesota which questioned closure for families of murder victims resulting from the execution of the perpetrator. Indeed, there were clear indications that not only does the death penalty not promote healing, but that those family members where the perpetrator received life without the possibility of parole fared better. As timely closure for murder victims family member was given again and again as the overarching reason for the Fair Justice Act, we hope that this study will be expanded and widely circulated.

Of continued concern for all of us is that not only does no one appear to know what lethal injection drugs are being used in various states, but that a recent ruling in MO dealt a blow to the concept of transparency and the right to know the provenance of the drugs. In different states there is talk of bringing back alternate ways of execution. We will keep you posted of developments.

We received good news from two of our supporters in Germany. They are about to launch a sister organization Oppose Death Penalty complete with website and face book page. The goal of this organization will be to provide information on the death penalty, with a special focus on Alabama. The founders are about to set up an appointment with a member of the Committee of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, who among her duties had "Setting up an independent European commission of inquiry into serious allegations of grave human rights violations". That should certainly include  the death penalty in general and Alabama in particular. We thank the founders for their dedication and look forward to close cooperation between our two organizations.

 See you next week!

Esther