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Peace Out! Week Eighty-nine
ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY!
Join EPF this Saturday for a chance to find some inspiration to engage in advocacy against the death penalty. Read on…
The following is offered by NEC member Kathy McGregor of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Kathy is a founder of The Prison Story Project and a fierce advocate for her brothers and sisters on death row in Arkansas. She will co-host our viewing of "On the Row: Stories from Arkansas’s Death Row" this Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. Please join us for this compelling work of advocacy, and a Q & A session afterwards with Kathy and our condemned brother, Kenneth Reams, who will join us from Death Row at Varner Prison.
There are two federal executions scheduled prior to the Zoom showing of On The Row on Saturday, September 26: William LeCroy is scheduled to be executed on September 22 and Christopher Vialva on September 24. I was particularly drawn to the death penalty case of Christopher Vialva. He arrived on death row in June 1999, just over a month after his 19th birthday.
I was drawn to Vialva’s case because Kenneth Reams, one of the men our Prison Story Project served, has been on death row since the age of 18 for a crime he did not commit.
According to prominent cognitive neuropsychologist, Dr. Jason Chein, director of the Temple University Brain Reserarch and Imaging Center, the decision to execute Vialva is out of step with what science now knows about the workings of the adolescent brain.
Vialva was 19 years old when he and four co-defendants, aged 15, 16, 16, and 18, killed a Texas couple during a carjacking and robbery. In a September 17 commentary in Bloomberg Law, Dr. Chein writes that while these murders were clearly an abhorrent act, “to make a final judgment about a person’s life based on a crime he committed as a teenager is to ignore what the last 20-plus years of research has taught us about the developing brains of teenagers and adolescents.”
I have seen first-hand how age and maturity have changed Kenneth. He is now 46 years old and has spent every day of the past 26 years in solitary confinement, pushing back the walls of his cell to become a painter, a poet, non-profit founder and art event organizer – all while fighting for his life.
Kenneth will try to call in for the Q&A after the showing of On the Row if the prison will allow it. If not, he will attempt to call in through his lawyer. If that doesn’t work, he has given me permission to gather questions you may have for him to answer and post on the EPF website. So please bring any questions you may have about what it’s like to live in solitary confinement on death row for decades. You may read more of Kenneth’s story here. www.freekennethreams.org
"If I were queen, there would be no death penalty". Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read Equal Justice Initiative’s lament at the death of the only Supreme Court Justice with advocacy against the death penalty in her legal practice experience HERE
Online October 4 –
November 3, 2020
The ninth annual Witness Palestine Film Festival is scheduled for October 4 – November 3. With no or very limited access this year to our traditional venues of The Little Theatre and St. John Fischer College, the festival will be online. In this new format, we plan to make four films available via the web at no charge. This year’s films offer perspectives on Palestine/Israel through a variety of lenses: historical; shared heart-felt personal experiences of former Israeli soldiers and of American Jews encountering first-hand the realities of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation; and the stories of Arab Americans in Brooklyn seeking a political voice. Film titles, dates, registration information, and other details may be found at WitnessPalestineRochester.org.
Give us, we pray you, gentle God,
a mind forgetful of past injury,
a will to seek the good of others
and a heart of love.
Grant us, Jesus, that tender, indestructible love
which asks forgiveness for its executioners
and gives hope to the thief on the cross.
Keep us compassionate when the way is hard,
and gentle with those who oppose us.
you have taught us
that anything we do without love is worth nothing,
for whoever lives without love
is counted dead before you;
send your Holy Spirit,
and pour into our hearts
that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues;
grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen