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Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 4.22.20

                   Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 4.22.20

We are delighted to quote the following from The Washington Post: “The Supreme Court on Monday ruled 6 to 3 that state court juries must be unanimous to convict a defendant of a serious crime, a decision that scrambled the court’s usual ideological lineups and prompted soul-searching among some justices about when to overturn precedent.” At this point the ruling applies only to ongoing cases and would have to be litigated to decide whether it applied retroactively. In other death penalty news around the country we discussed execution postponements due to the pandemic and also that there has been a demand for states to relinquish execution drugs to hospitals to be used to alleviate pain. We are not aware of that happening in Alabama. Then of course this state has steadfastly refused to release its source or expiration date of the execution drugs.

 We too could be faced with the epidemic and so one of the topics at today’s meeting was how we see our role in all of this? We have been provided with face masks and discussed their care as well as the importance of hand washing. What else can we do? We are aware at a distance of the stress that the epidemic is causing on the outside and of course it is no different in here. We discussed that we can work on active listening, really hearing the other, when he or maybe our family member needs to vent. Active listening means not brushing the other one off with such trite phrases as “all will be okay” but really hearing the other. Sure that is not always easy as we are all under stress but that is something positive we can do so as not to feel so helpless. And where do we vent? We do it with each other as we are family after all! And so our focus is not on what we can’t do, something that is our daily bread so to speak, but rather what we can do as leaders of our organization.

We also discussed with much appreciation and in depth the Open Letter sent to Governor Ivey by the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy of which our organization is also a member, entitled: Urgent Action Necessary to save lives of Inmates, Staff, National Guard and Others from COVID-19 Transmission in Alabama Prisons and Jails. We quote: “ Generally, we share the wide-ranging concerns and support the recommendations detailed in otherrecentcommunications regarding this particularly vulnerable population, including (1) Alabamiansfor Fair Justice’s Letter to ADOC Commissioner Jeffrey Dunn on COVID-19 Prevention and Protection in Alabama Facilities (March 18, 2020), (2) An open letter to Gov. Ivey from 67 in UALaw Community (March 28, 2020), and (3) Letter from 25 Legal Academics and Former Law Enforcement Officials Regarding the Alabama Parole Board (March 30, 2020).” In addition the letter also details specific steps which should be taken immediately. We posted it on our Facebook page.

We have left the very best piece of news for last: Senator Hank Sanders ret. very graciously agreed to join our Advisory Board. No one has done more for death penalty abolition in Alabama than Senator Hank Sanders! We will be forever in his debt!

And so as we continue to do our best to keep things positive in here we encourage you to do the same out there, to take good care of yourselves and to stay safe!