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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…

Georgia: Baker death penalty pardon observed

ALBANY, Ga. — Today marks the seventh anniversary of the pardon of Lena Baker, who was executed in Georgia’s electric chair in 1945.

Baker, who lived in Randolph County, held the distinction of being the only woman to be executed by electrocution in Georgia.

She was a black maid who was executed for murder on charges of killing her employer, Ernest Knight, in 1944. At her trial she said that he had imprisoned and threatened to shoot her should she try to leave. She took his gun and shot him

In 2005 Baker was granted a full and unconditional pardon by the State of Georgia, 60 years after her execution. The movie “The Lena Baker Story,” is about her life.

Her nephew, Roosevelt Curry, received the papers pardoning Baker posthumously. The pardon stated the 1945 decision to deny her clemency and execute her was “a grievous error.”

“It was an injustice. It was wrong,” Curry said. “I want to thank the board for the pardon.”

“The truth has never been told. She was abused,” Curry said. “Only God and those two know what happened. Her children spent 60 more years crying for their mama. They are dead now.”

Baker was buried in the Vernon Missionary Baptist Church cemetery in Coleman.

Source: Albany Herald, August 30, 2012

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