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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Protests planned against Davis’ execution

As Troy Anthony Davis waits to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will stay his execution Tuesday night, death-penalty opponents planned protests and vigils across the state.

Davis, 39, sits on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989, killing of Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. He is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 7 p.m., even though questions linger as to whether he was MacPhail’s killer.

Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses who testified against him have recanted their testimony. But the state Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied clemency to Davis.

Chatham County prosecutors say they are certain that Davis fired the fatal shots into MacPhail, before the officer could draw his gun. MacPhail, 27, a father of two, was working off-duty as a security guard when he was gunned down in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah.

Today, a number of groups plan to picket Rainbow Medical Associates’ offices in Jonesboro. Rainbow Medical provides medical personnel for state executions at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Phone calls to Rainbow Medical this morning were not returned.

Rainbow Medical provides two physicians and two registered nurses for each execution, Department of Corrections spokesman Paul Czachowski said. The company is paid $4,000 if the execution occurs on time and $6,000 if it is delayed for more than two hours. It makes $2,000 if the execution is stayed and not carried out, the spokesman said.

The company’s nurses prepare the intravenous lines for the lethal injection and the doctors do not participate in the execution, Czachowski said. They are there to check on the inmate to make sure he is deceased and are there for any emergency, he said.

Picketing at Rainbow Medical’s offices will be representatives from Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the NAACP’s Georgia chapter and other opponents of capital punishment.

“As long as the state continues this futile and brutalizing exercise in vengeance, we will continue to take a public stand against killing Troy Davis in our names,” Sara Totonchi, chair of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said.

On Monday, Totonchi called for prison officials and medical personnel who help carry out the execution in Jackson to call in sick today. But Czachowski said no one had done so.

Early this afternoon, opponents of Davis’ execution plan to stage a “Die-In” at the state Capitol. Tonight, vigils are planned at the Capitol, Athens, Americus, Jackson, Augusta, Clarkesville, Dawson, Marietta and Savannah.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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