Friday, June 4, 2010

David Lee Powell's execution date is set.

On 15th June 2010, the state of Texas is due to execute David Powell, currently on death row at the Polunsky Unit. He has been there since 1978. Of these 32 years, the last ten have been spent in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, after the 1999 breakout from the unit of a group of prisoners led to total lock-down for all death row inmates.

David Powell has plenty to recommend him as a useful member of prison society. He had no priors before the murder, and had become addicted to drugs when the murder occurred - he has been clean since incarceration. In 32 years, he has persuaded inmates not to get involved in gangs, he has helped them with their legal documentation, he has helped supply materials for inmates who want to develop their art or their writing. He has edited articles for those trying to get work published, and provided a political education for those around him. On a more basic level, he has also taught prisoners to read and write, which when you’re locked down for 23 hours a day with normally not even a radio, can be a lifeline.

David Powell does not deny killing Officer Ralph Ablanedo in 1978, and no one wants to take away from the enormity of Ablanedo's death. But is it humane to give someone a life-sentence of 32 years, and then execute them at the end of it? Since David arrived on death row, 70 countries have banned the death penalty. This is a man who could make a big difference to the general prison population were he given clemency.

If you want to know more, the link will take you to Amnesty International USA’s webpage. If you feel it’s the right thing to do, please send their email to the paroles board. Execution is set for 15th June.

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