Not able to see the newsletter?
View this email in your browser >

MAY 2019

Dear friends,

How did this happen? In April, I gained this new tag - "octogenarian" - and it made me do a double-take. Why? Because I feel so alive. It set me to thinking, where's this high octane energy coming from?

Now don't get me wrong. I've got some accumulated aches: a little kink in a spot in my back, some restructured vertebrae that sometimes talk to me, a need for more naps. And there's no escaping the sad weight of people I love dying, losing the vibrancy of their physical presence, their voices - forever

Still, I know that I have an abundance of energy for life that sometimes occasions comment. So, for your youthful edification, here are some attitudes and practices I try to maintain to stay freshly alive, not just living:
  1. Read books and substantive articles. Feed my intellectual life. A great line I love from one of the characters in Tolkien's Hobbit (loosely paraphrased): "When in pain, learn something new. Your mind can't possibly be learning something new and at the same time dwell on what makes you sad."
  2. Meditate. Capture hunks of solitude to drop the bucket into the Soul Well where deep, spiritual waters flow.
  3. Stay close to community in common purpose. For me, that's Jesus followers who do justice and practitioners of human rights (like the right not be executed at the hands of the state).
  4. LIVE LARGE, worry small. Engage in soul-sized work. Avoid itsy-bitsy, gossipy, boring stuff like the plague.
  5. Get past constant, nagging ego to serve others. Hang out with people who give of themselves generously for others. (For starters, for me, that's my community, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and also the lawyers who represent poor people who have no one to defend them.)
  6. Keep a soul journal and face feelings head on, especially sad, heavy or angry feelings. Life is not just up and up and up. When I hit a trough I try to face it, name it: "Feel sad today. I miss Mary Ann" (my sister died in Nov 2016).
  7. Prioritize hunks of time to be with friends, especially when they're going through tough times.
  8. Stay playful. Tease, goose life a bit, collect jokes and tell them every chance you get. (In Louisiana, Cajun jokes are big, dominated by the characters Boudreaux and Thibodeaux. People even share them at the grocery store.)
  9. Stay clear of self-pity. existere: Take hold of life, actively respond to life as it comes. I live and breathe agency. It's up to me to choose how I will succumb to injustice or energetically resist it.
  10. (a) When every single one of these noble, high sounding practices fail, I tuck in, hit the dirt, cave in to sadness, and let the wave of sorrow crash over me. Then I pray for grace, the spiritual power I need to carry on. In the prophet Isaiah is a phrase I love: "Behold, I am making all things new."
Bonus tip:
  1. (b) I whistle. I hope you can, too. Whistling as you're walking through airports or doing the dishes is good for the soul. If you don't know how, maybe you can find a Whistler Teacher. It will lighten your day. Note to Catholic girls: It's not true that girls who whistle make the Blessed Mother cry.
Then I try to get a good night's sleep.

How are you grabbing life?

From the heart,


Please help my work

At the Ministry Against the Death Penalty, we try not to bombard you with constant requests for money. But twice each year we make a direct appeal for our work, on Giving Tuesday in November and on GiveNOLA Day (this year, May 7).

We've also recently launched a new donation tool for folk who'd like to give on their own schedule or on a sustaining basis. With this tool, you can donate one time, on a monthly recurring basis, or via roundups. Roundups are the easiest way to support our cause. With roundups, you sign up with a credit card and then each purchase you make on that card is rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the extra cents going directly to our work. It has bank-level security and lots of options so you can control the total amount you donate. And, it puts you on my personal text message list (if you choose!) so I can give you inside tidbits on what's happening.

  1. Please consider signing up for roundups or a monthly donation. (You can click that big, beautiful, colorful hand to sign up.)
  2. Or join the throng who donate on GiveNOLA Day - May 7 - to give our work a tremendous boost. (I'll drop a note in your inbox right before GiveNOLA Day to remind you - or you can put it on your calendar now and save the address:
  3. Or...both!
Now is a great time to turn your support for my work into something very concrete. We have so many things cooking:
  • my new book, River of Fire, comes out in August;
  • we expect PBS to start national broadcast of Joe Cardona's documentary, Sister, this Fall;
  • audio versions of Dead Man Walking and River of Fire will be published this year, too;
  • we're working on a graphic adaptation of Dead Man Walking with an astounding artist;
  • we have a big campaign on the boil in Louisiana in conjunction with Catholic schools and local organizers;
  • plus our regular roster of talks, teaching, tete-a-tete-ing with legislators, working with prisoners and victims' families.
  • in short, working like crazy to end executions for good.

Click to sign up for roundups or a monthly donation
Something to celebrate!
Congratulations to California Governor Gavin Newsom
for closing the nation's largest death row.


And more to celebrate...

New Hampshire, the only state in New England to have a death penalty, is on the point of doing away with executions. In March of this year the House passed a bill, with a veto-proof majority, to abolish the death penalty; the Senate followed with its own veto-proof vote in April.

The "veto-proof" part is crucial, because although the legislature has passed anti-death penalty measures on more than one occasion, each time the governor has stepped in and vetoed it. In 2000, Governor Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat) vetoed an abolition bill. The legislature again passed abolition legislation in 2018 only to have it vetoed by Governor Chris Sununu (Republican).

Now, both chambers of the legislature have passed an abolition bill with enough support that if Gov. Sununu vetoes it, as he has threatened to do, they will be able to override that veto.

A few things to know about New Hampshire and capital punishment:
  • The last execution in the state was in 1939.
  • There is only one person on New Hampshire's death row.
  • The state currently has the death penalty but no death chamber. The legislature has not voted the funds to build one.
Although abolition is not, yet, a done deal, it is inching closer. When it comes, it will be the result of decades of work by many, many people. But there's one person who deserves a special shout out, whose efforts have been heroic - Renny Cushing.

Renny's father was killed in a home invasion in 1988 and in that same year he introduced his first bill to abolish the death penalty. He has been working towards that end ever since.
Breaking News
The New Hampshire abolition bill landed on Governor Sununu's desk as this newsletter was going to 'print'. He has five days to sign or veto, so keep your eyes on New Hampshire!

Upcoming Executions

Thanks to Death Penalty Information Center for this information.

+ Rescheduled by Gov. DeWine as a result of the absence of an acceptable lethal-injection protocol.

02     TX     Dexter Johnson
02     GA     Scotty Morrow
16     TN     Donnie Edward Johnson
16     AL     Michael Samra
23     FL     Robert Long
29     OH     Timothy J. Hoffner — RESCHEDULED
29     OH     Cleveland Jackson — REPRIEVED, RESCHEDULED+

05     OH     Alva Campbell — DIED 3/3/18

10     OH     Kareem M. Jackson — REPRIEVED, RESCHEDULED+


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.


Copyright © 2019 Ministry Against the Death Penalty, All rights reserved.

Unsubscribe from this list   
Update subscription preferences