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NOVEMBER 5, 2021

Dear friends:

This past week has been a rollercoaster for all of us who are committed to ending the death penalty. Last Thursday, Oklahoma carried out its fourth botched execution in a row, an execution the Department of Corrections says went "without complication". The official phrase cannot blind the eyes of the witnesses who watched as John Grant repeatedly convulsed and vomited.

Then on Monday we received the good news that the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had voted 3-to-1 to recommend Julius Jones' death sentence be reduced to life with the possibility of parole. Their recommendation is now in the hands of Governor Kevin Stitt. If the governor fails to do so, Julius is scheduled for execution on November 18. It is my fervent hope that Governor Stitt acts as justice demands and follows the recommendation of board.

In between these two events, Texas District Court Judge J.D. Langley denied Rodney Reed's bid for a new trial after an evidentiary hearing.

Rodney Reed's case
You can read more about John and Julius in this newsletter, but I just want to say how heartbreaking it is to see this setback in Rodney Reed's case. Rodney, who is black, was found guilty by an all-white jury of murdering Stacey Stites, a white woman, in 1996. Stacey's boyfriend at the time was a policeman, Jimmy Fennell. Evidence has mounted over the years that it was Fennell who killed Stacey Stites after he discovered that she was having an affair with Rodney. (In 2008, Fennell pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while he was on duty. He served 10 years for this crime.)

In his findings in the recent evidentiary hearing, Judge Langley swept aside the evidence given by a host of defense witnesses, while finding Fennell "credible" on every disputed issue, even though Fennell has every incentive to lie and blame someone else. This aligning of police, prosecution and judicial forces feels all too familiar, especially in cases with a black defendant and a white victim.

From the heart,

Write to Rodney Reed
📝 Rodney Reed's case will now head to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In the meantime, Rodney's team is asking everyone to send him uplifting mail during this difficult time and provided the following guidelines:
  • Please write on white paper with black ink.
  • Don’t embellish the envelope in any way, but do include your name and return address.
  • If you send photographs, please print them on a plain white sheet of paper.
Rodney’s address is:

Rodney Reed #999271
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351

Oklahoma perfects the botching of executions

On October 28th, Oklahoma carried out its first execution since January 2015. According to media witnesses, John Grant experienced full-body convulsions and vomited on himself multiple times after being injected with Midazolam, the first drug in Oklahoma’s injection protocol.

Midazolam vialWhile this was horrifying, it was not surprising. Oklahoma has botched every execution it has attempted in the past seven years. In April 2014, Clayton Lockett tried to get up off the execution gurney after an IV line was set incorrectly. He eventually died, after an excruciating length of time on the execution gurney, of a heart attack. Charles Warner was executed with a food preservative chemical in January 2015 after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections purchased the wrong drug. In September 2015, Oklahoma tried to execute Richard Glossip twice with the same incorrect drug. It was only the white hot glare of global attention that made them halt that execution.

And then Oklahoma stopped executing people. The Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission stepped in to examine every aspect of the state's capital punishment system. Its 272-page report contained 46 recommendations. A few hours after the Commission's report was published, then Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter announced that he'd not be following any of its recommendations. Instead, the state went looking for new ways to kill its citizens, including an experimental use of nitrogen gas. Finally, Oklahoma gave up on alternative methods and decided to return to the method it new best: its failed lethal injection cocktail. (It should be noted that the Supreme Court played a major role in allowing such failed protocols to be used, with its decision in Glossip v. Gross.)
In response to the latest botched execution, Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections says that it will continue carrying out executions exactly as before. In fact, the DOC said that John Grant’s execution went “in accordance with protocol and without complication.” This is Orwellian doublespeak. What they mean by "without complication" is that (for once) they used the correct drugs according to the protocol and the end result was John Grant's death. Oklahoma has not only perfected the botching of executions, it has perfected the language to mask their own cruel incompetence.

Hope for Julius Jones

After a years-long fight, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended on Monday that Julius Jones should receive executive clemency and that his death sentence should be commuted to life with the possibility of parole. The vote was 3-1. Julius’s fate is now in the hands of Gov. Kevin Stitt, who appointed a majority of the pardon board’s members.
Take action for Julius!
🖋️ Julius Jones' fate is in the hands of Gov. Kevin Stitt. Email him today to ask that he follow the recommendations of his own Pardon and Parole Board.

An execution date remains scheduled for November 18th. Meanwhile, Julius sits in a solid concrete death watch cell feet away from the execution chamber where John Grant was killed in a gruesome botched execution last week. Gov. Stitt should act quickly and end the psychological torture that Julius has already had to endure. It is hard to imagine the torment he must be going through.

Mississippi starts executing again

Only three states have executions scheduled for the rest of this year and the first few months of 2022. Two of those states - Oklahoma and Texas - are no surprise. But now, Mississippi will perform its first execution since 2012. David Cox has given up his appeals and will be executed on November 17.

November 2021
17        MS      David Cox
18        OK      Julius Jones
December 2021
9          OK      Bigler Jobe Stouffer
January 2022
6          OK      Wade Greenly Lay
27        OK      Donald Anthony Grant
February 2022
17        OK      Gilbert Ray Postelle
March 2022
8          TX       Michael Gonzales
10        OK      James Allen Coddington


We’d love to hear from you.

Let us know what you’d like to see in future editions of Death Penalty Discourse, what tools and resources you’re using in your community, and how Dead Man Walking has impacted your life. Contact us by email and like us on Facebook for updates and current news.


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