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The 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 at the Texas Capitol at 2 PM (on the north side of the capitol).  A rally will begin at 2 PM followed by a march through the streets of downtown Austin at 3.

The march will be led by 20 death row survivors who each spent many years on death rows around the U.S. despite being innocent. The 20 exonerees are coming to Texas as members of Witness to Innocence. Some of the exonerees are in Texas for a speaking tour across the state and all of them will be in Austin for the Witness to Innocence "Gathering" from October 20-23. Witness to Innocence is the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones.

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A committee in the legislature of the nation's number one execution state is set to take up the issue of the death penalty on Tuesday, March 29. The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing Tuesday March 29 on several death penalty related bills, including a moratorium on executions (HB 1641 by Dutton), abolition of the death penalty (HB 852 by Dutton and HB 819 by Farrar), prohibiting death sentences in Law of Parties cases (HB 855 and HB 2511 both by Dutton) and requiring separate trials in capital cases (HB 2200 by Miles).

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The "Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break" will be held in Austin from March 14-18, 2011. The full schedule and a registration form is on the website: www.springbreakalternative.org/deathpenalty. Special guests include six exonerated people who all-together spent about 50 years condemned to death for crimes they did not commit: Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell.  

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A hearing on the constitutionality of the Texas death penalty will be held in Judge Kevin Fine's courtroom in Houston on Monday, December 6, at 9 AM. The hearing comes about six weeks after Anthony Graves was exonerated and released after spending 18 years in prison in Texas, most of it on death row, for a crime he was completely innocent of committing. Read more at the Texas Tribune.

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On October 27, Anthony Graves became the 12th person exonerated after being wrongfully convicted and spending years on Texas death row. Anthony is a completely innocent man who spent a total of 18 years locked up for a crime he had absolutely nothing to do with. Twelve of those years were spent on Texas death row in a tiny cell having his food shoved through a small slit in the door. The other years were spent in jail awaiting retrial and facing the prospect of again being sentenced to death. Anthony is now back in the loving embrace of his family and friends and soon he will enjoy his first Thanksgiving holiday as a free man in 18 years.

Now that he is free, read on to see how you can help Anthony Graves now that he has been released.

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A Houston judge who last week ruled that the procedures used to convict and sentence someone to death in Texas are unconstitutional has scheduled a hearing on April 27 to hear evidence on the issue (Read more here). State District Judge Kevin Fine said he wants more information before making a final decision about whether the state's death penalty statute allows for the possible execution of an innocent person. Judge Fine has asked Harris County prosecutors and defense attorneys to submit motions on the due process issue by April 12. Fine will then have an evidentiary hearing April 27 when testimony on whether innocent people have been executed in Texas is set to be presented. The defense attorneys are still determining whom they might call to testify at the April 27 hearing, but they said it might include officials connected to the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, whose 2004 execution for the deaths of his three daughters in a 1991 house fire near Corsicana is now being questioned.

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Take a moment to vote for the Abolish the Death Penalty as an Idea for Change in America at Change.org. (You will have to register at Change.org to vote.) If the idea becomes one of the top ten, Change.org will host an event in Washington, DC, where each of the 10 ideas will be presented to representatives of the media, the nonprofit community, and to relevant officials in the Obama Administration. After the announcement, Change.org will mobilize the full resources of their staff, their 1 million community members, and their extended network of bloggers to support a series of grassroots campaigns to turn each idea into reality.

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Last October, Texas Governor Rick Perry replaced the chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, as well as a few other members, days before the commission was set to meet and discuss a report from a national arson expert that cast doubt on the validity of the forensic evidence used to convict and execute Todd Willingham. At the time, it looked like Perry was trying to cover-up and delay progress in the investigation until after the March primary. Now, it seems certain that was what he was trying to do and he has probably succeeded since the report was not discussed at Friday's meeting of the commission and the next meeting is not until April.

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The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday voted to recommend to Governor Rick Perry that the death sentence of Robert Thompson be commuted to life.  Thompson's execution is scheduled for today, Thursday, November 19.  Governor Perry will be deciding this morning whether to accept the recommendation and grant clemency to Thompson. Perry could accept or reject the recommendation from the BPP. Perry appointed all the members of the BPP.

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Today, Saturday October 24, is the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty, where the focus will be the Todd Willingham case and other cases involving innocent people sentenced to death. The march starts at 2 PM at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Three innocent, exonerated former death row prisoners will be among the special guests today at the Tenth Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty. Curtis McCarty spent 19 years on death row in Oklahoma before being exonerated and released in 2007. Shujaa Graham spent three years on death row in California and Ron Keine spent almost two years on death row in New Mexico, which abolished the death penalty in 2009.

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The news video below talks about Texas Governor Rick Perry's then-general counsel David Medina's role in advising Perry on the day of Todd Willingham's execution. Medina was later appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by Perry. In 2007, Medina's wife was charged with arson and Medina himself was charged with records tampering after their home burned down. The charges were later dropped against Medina's wife, Francisca, after an arson investigator hired by Medina found that arson could not have been the cause. Charges were dropped against David Medina for insufficient evidence.

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The 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held at the Texas Capitol in Austin on October 24, 2009. The march and rally will include the delivery of a petition with thousands of signatures urging Governor Rick Perry and the State of Texas to acknowledge that the fire in the Cameron Todd Willingham case was not arson, therefore no crime was committed and on February 17, 2004 Texas executed an innocent man. The petition also urges Perry to suspend executions and appoint a balanced and independent commission to examine all aspects of the Texas death penalty system to determine what went wrong in the Willingham case and how to prevent the execution of innocent people. People can sign the petition at www.camerontoddwillingham.com.

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