Category Archives: Death Penalty

Advocate for Jennifer Dalquez on Orange Day

UNiTE_Poster_CThe UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, managed by UN Women, has proclaimed every 25th of the month as “Orange Day” – a day to take action to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls.

If you are looking for another action for this day, March 25, 2017, consider signing this petition to save Jennifer Dalquez, a migrant worker from the Philippines sentenced to death by in the United Arab Emirates. She sits in prison in the U.A.E. awaiting appeal from her death sentence at the Al Ain Judicial Court on March 27, 2017.

The killing of Jennifer Dalquez by the state would be an obvious example of violence against women. However, according to reports by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Jennifer’s case involves further violence.

Jennifer claims self-defense when her former employer attempted to rape her in December 2014. Dalquez fatally wounded her employer during the ensuing struggle to protect her life from harm.

Jennifer is one of many overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who leave their country to earn a living and provide for their families. These workers often struggle to seek safety and justice while working overseas. We learned about Jennifer Dalquez through the prophetic witness of migrant ministries and organizations that advocate for overseas Filipino workers.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly has long opposed the imposition of the death penalty. In addition, the General Assembly’s human trafficking policy focuses on the protection of workers and workers’ rights, including freedom from abuse and exploitation, in response to globalization and migration.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines have sent letters to the president of the Philippines and to the president of the U.A.E. .

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has asked Presbyterians to “join in prayer that Jennifer Dalquez be spared from execution” and to “show our support through the online signature campaign that appeals to the United Arab Emirates government to respect Jennifer’s plea for self-defense and to overturn her death penalty conviction” and to “further our resolve to protect workers and workers’ rights, including their safety and justice in the Philippines and for OFWs throughout the world.”

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Ask United Arab Emirates President to Pardon Jennifer Dalquez

Philippines-CIA_WFB_MapMy colleague Catherine Chang and partners from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines hand delivered a letter for President Duterte of the Philippines on Friday, March 24, 2017. The letter was delivered to a presidential aide.

The joint letter from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines asks President Duterte to appeal to the United Arab Emirates’ authorities to overturn the death penalty for Jennifer Dalquez who is currently awaiting her appeal hearing that will take place on March 27, at the Al-Ain Court of Appeals. You can learn more about Jennifer and sign a petition on her behalf asking His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates to pardon Jennifer Dalquez and repatriate her to her family in the Phillipines.

Here is Catherine’s reflection on delivering the letter:

Many thanks for your prayers for our earlier morning visit to Malacanang Palace (equivalent to the White House) to hand-deliver a joint UCCP-PCUSA letter for President Duterte, about Jennifer Dalquez.

**The Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella received our small delegation which included 2 UCCP colleagues, Karrie Palaruan and Jason Caperas, and myself. We gave him our letter, and spoke for almost 30 minutes. He assured us that he and his staff will try to facilitate everything possible for an appeal from the death penalty.
***Hoping to find a way to share the joint letter via FB so that you can see it and share it!
***Keep those prayers coming for Jennifer and her family, UAE authorities, and the Philippine government.

Some background

Catherine Chang and her husband Juan Lopez serve as mission co-workers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Their ministry helps Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partner churches address issues of migration and human trafficking.  They are based in Manila, the Philippines. The UN’s International Labor Organization estimates 21 million people around the world are victims of forced labor.  Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, including within the United States. Countries in Asia are increasingly vulnerable. Cathy and Juan will work with Asian churches and non-governmental organizations to help coordinate efforts related to ending this scourge. They will also resource the Presbyterian Human Trafficking Roundtable, made up of various programs of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Office of the General Assembly,  in their work to support US congregations concerned about the issue.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

I do not want his death

This is  guest post by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer Oget, associate professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Thank you Margaret for your words and witness and for allowing them to be shared here.

I know this is not popular, but I don’t want them to execute Dylann Roof.

First, it perpetuates the culture of violence and legitimates the utterly illegitimate system of state-sponsored execution. He becomes the monster who proves the rule.

Second, it treats him as though he is some extraordinary exception that can be rooted out, like a noxious weed, rather than a young adult radicalized by white racist Christianist terrorists intent at creating a race war. Cf. Girard: the Scapegoat

Third, it means he never has to grow up, face what he did, and explain it to himself and to us, aloud. He can die a martyr and never once look in the eyes of the children whose parents he killed, the parents whose children he killed, the parishioners whose pastor he killed, or the legislators whose colleague he killed.

No, I do not want his death. I want those who radicalized him — on trial — for murder. I want their ring dismantled. I want the connections between that ring and the larger structures of systemic racism to become so plain that every and any one can read it.

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Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

#danielonmymind

I have been remiss in posting about the death penalty. It is part of my privilege that I can “become too busy” or “have other things to do.” The reality is that I can choose to engage this issue or not. That’s a choice many of my sisters and brothers do not have.

Today, I choose engagement.

The State of Georgia has set April 27, 2016 as the date to execute Daniel Anthony Lucas. Lucas was convicted for the 1998 murder of eleven-year-old Bryan Moss, fifteen-year-old Kristin Moss, and their father Steven Moss. Two children and their father.

There seems little doubt as to his guilt. His crime is heinous. I cannot begin to imagine the grief and pain endured by those who love Bryan, Kristin, and Steven. My heart breaks for young lives ended too soon; my heart goes out to those who grieve.

But execution is not the answer. It will not restore Bryan, Kristin, and Steven.

Responding to killing with killing pays no honor to the person that Bryan, Kristin, and Steven were and might become.

Execution says more about us than it does about the person we execute. It lowers us to the level of those who kill.

Nothing justifies the murder of Bryan, Kristin, and Steven. But the execution of their killer is not the answer. Life imprisonment is.

The National Coalition against the Death Penalty suggests several actions we can take:

  • Contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and ask them to halt this execution: contact them via email at clemency_info@pap.state.ga.us, by tweet at @GA_ParoleBoard or by phone at (404) 656-4661. If you prefer to send a letter, here is their mailing address: State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.
  • Contact Gov. Nathan Deal to influence his Parole Board: While the parole board is the only entity that can grant clemency, its five members are appointed by the Governor. Contact Gov. Deal and urge him to intervene at Governor Nathan Deal, Office of the Governor, 203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. You can also contact him by phone at (404) 656-1776, via this link or by twitter@GovernorDeal.
  • If you live in Georgia, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Attend a vigil organized by the Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, around the scheduled execution.
  • Please share this information with your friends, especially those in Georgia, and ask them to help halt the execution of Mr. Lucas by taking one of the actions listed above.

It is time to end the death penalty.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Uncategorized

Decent people

I oppose the death penalty for a number of reasons. Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch, expressed one of the most important reasons in these terms:

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

 

 

Our position on the death penalty says as much about us and our characters as it does about the person and the character of the person facing the death penalty.

Brian, the wife of my friend Bruce Reyes-Chow,  was murdered at his place of work in 2008. In the wake of the execution of Kelly Gissendaner and the four executions (Richard Glossip’s execution was stayed until Nov. 6 due to questions about the lethal injection drug that would have been used) scheduled between now and October 7, Bruce shares some “Thoughts on the Death Penalty and Remembering Brian.” He writes in part:

We are that family who has lost a loved one and we do not believe that the death penalty is right, just, or humane. Did the killer of Brian extend the same compassion, justice, or humanity, no. Are there times when rage and sadness manifest themselves into wanting revenge, certainly. But we also know that responding to evil with evil, hate with hate, and murder with murder pays no honor to the person that Brian was or to the world that he hoped we would become.

So for the very reason that so many scream. “Death! Justice! Vengeance!” in honor of the person who has been lost, even in the midst of our own rage, sadness, and our own yearning for retribution, we plead, “Life! Compassion! Dignity!” in honor of the person we lost.

Our position on the death penalty says as much about us and our characters as it does about the person and the character of the person facing the death penalty.

I am honored that Bruce and his family have chosen to be friends with me.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Friends

A stay of execution for Richard Glossip

Ask Governor Fallin of Oklahoma to grant Richard Glossip a stay of execution. I signed a petition asking that tonight. You can too.

I agree with Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch:

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

I would also affirm:

I don’t oppose the death penalty because of what it says about the person being executed. I oppose the death penalty because of that it says about our society and about me.

And absolutely I believe:

I oppose the death penalty because human infallibility and the racism and classism endemic to our justice system make the it possible, maybe even likely, an innocent person will be executed.

Richard Glossip may be an innocent person. The state of Oklahoma plans to execute Richard on September 16. Sister Helen Prejean and many others believe he is innocent of the crime for which was convicted.

Early on January 7, 1997, Barry Van Treese, owner of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City was beaten to death with a baseball bat. It was a brutal, heinous crime. I grieve for Mr. Van Treese and those who loved him.

Richard Glossip was convicted of murder after Justin Sneed, the man who confessed to the killing, claimed Richard had hired him to do it, despite a ulack of evidence. Sneed got a life sentence in a medium-security prison, while the self-serving testimony that saved Sneed’s life sent Richard to death row.

The National Coalition against the Death Penalty notes there was no physical evidence to corroborate Sneed’s testimony against Richard. Sister Helen Prejean’s Ministry against the Death Penalty notes several reasons that Glossip should receive a stay of execution including the fact that he did not kill Barry Van Treese and the lack of evidence supporting the contention that Glossip had hired Sneed to do the killing. Learn more about the case from Sister Helen Prejean’s Ministry against the Death Penalty.

Other actions you might take, suggested by both Sister Helen Prejean’s ministry and the National Coalition against the Death Penalty:

  • Contact Gov. Mary Fallin and ask her to halt this execution: write her a letter at Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 212, Oklahoma City, OK 73105; call her at (405) 521-2342 or contact her by tweet at @GovMaryFallin.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Write to Richard. His address is: Richard E. Glossip, #267303, OSP, H-Unit, H-SW4-L, PO Box 97, McAlester, OK 74502. To make sure your letter reaches Richard, please include your full name and return mail address on the envelope. Also, do not include anything in the envelope other than your card or letter.

Join me in asking Governor Fallin of Oklahoma to grant Richard Glossip a stay of execution.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

Let the debate begin!

Amid the rulings issued in late June, including a ruling that affirmed marriage without regard to sexual orientation and a ruling supporting the Affordable Care Act, came a decision that the “use of midazolam as part of lethal injection protocols is constitutional.”

The ruling focused, not on the death penalty itself, but on the means of administrating the death penalty. As Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said:

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled that using a cocktail of illegal drugs, which has been proven to cause torture in the prisoners to whom it’s been administered, as a form of execution, is not ‘cruel or unusual’ punishment.”

A sign of hope came from the dissent of Justice Stephen Breyer in which he questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty and called for a renewed legal debate on the matter.

Such a debate is needed.

Reports of recent executions describe cruel and unusual circumstances.  Writing in Salon, Matthew Rosza describes three executions:

Dennis McGuire of Ohio, who took nearly 25 minutes to die after choking and struggling throughout the procedure; Clayton Lockett of Oklahoma, whose execution was halted 20 minutes into the procedure due to an issue with his vein, began writhing on the gurney, and took 43 minutes in total to die; and Joseph Wood of Arizona, who gasped and snorted for nearly two hours before his lethal injection finally ended his life.

Not only does the death penalty appear to fit the cruel and unusual criteria of the Constitution, practical concerns abound. It does not make us safer. It lowers us to the behavior of criminals. It makes executioners of us all. It runs the risk of executing an innocent person. And racial and class bias riddle the use of the sentence.

The time has come to end the practice of the death penalty. Let the debate proposed by Justice Breyer begin!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty