Church of the Brethren
Rachel Gross, Director
P.O. Box 600
Liberty Mills, IN 46946


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DRSP News, Issue 16, September 2017

By Tara Collum

61 new pen pals in July; 88 in August.

After some disheartening cases this summer, there was some wonderful news out of Missouri for Marcellus Williams. The day of his scheduled execution Governor Eric Greitens issued a stay, and will appoint a rarely used 5-person Board of Inquiry panel to examine the case. There was no physical evidence to match Williams to the crime, footprints found on the scene did not match his, and, most critically, his DNA was not found on the murder weapon. Williams was convicted of the stabbing death of Felicia Gayle, a retired St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

There is a major case that could be heard by the US Supreme Court regarding the state of the death penalty in Arizona. There is one major challenge to executions in Arizona. In the state there are 14 aggravating factors that can qualify a case as capital; because of this so many murders could be tried as death penalty cases that it is up to the whims of a prosecutor what cases are ultimately tried, rather than clear legal guidelines. Data show that in 856 Arizona cases over 11 years, 98.8% could be tried as death penalty trials. In short, the case serves to prove that the death penalty is arbitrarily applied and overall unconstitutional nationwide. (In the US, prosecutors are elected rather than appointed, which only adds to the arbitrariness of the system.)


"I decided to join in the Death Row Support Project because I felt the need to show support towards someone that might not have any other support system. These inmates have made poor decisions but they are still people. I was not surprised to learn Ricky did not have the same privileges and upbringing as my own. I am so blessed to be raised with the family I was and I know how truly lucky I am. As I told Ricky, everyone needs someone they can trust and know someone is rooting for them.

"I am so proud to be part of a group of selfless and compassionate people who can look past others’ faults. This program is a wonderful idea. Some people will have a hard time understanding how people, such as ourselves, would want to write and possibly befriend these inmates. I see a group of loving people who see forgiveness as a liberating strength. I look forward to receiving a letters from Ricky. We write letters learning about each other's past, to talking about current TV shows, to our favorite places to visit. Ricky and I are developing a unique friendship where I feel we both benefit from."

DRSP Advocacy

Our DRSP Advocacy coordinator is currently taking a break. If you are looking for ways to work toward abolition of the death penalty, please check our Twitter feed, @COB_DRSP, where Tara regularly posts death penalty news, as well as action opportunities.

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