History: November Death Penalty History

November 2008
U.S. Military — On November 20th, 2008, the U.S. military publicly released the “execution date” for the nation’s longest serving military former U.S. Army Private Ronald A. Gray, who was convicted of multiple rapes and murders in 1988.
The Secretary of the Army set an execution date for December 10th, 2008. The method of execution would be lethal injection and take place at Terry Haute, Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana.
However, on November 26th, 2008, federal judge Richard Rodgers of Kansas granted Gray a stay of execution, halting the U.S. military first execution since 1961.
As of November 5th, 2017, Gray has not received a new execution date — even though a Kansas federal judge recently (in Dec. 2016), lifted his stay of execution, moving him towards the possibility of becoming the military’s first execution in over a half century now.

Solitary Confinement and The Death Penalty By Kenneth Reams

November 19, 2017

Today in America, 3,000 plus condemned inmates sit on death row. The vast majority of these condemned inmates are locked away in solitary confinement where they languish for prolonged amount of time under what has been described as cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. For these inmates the experience of living under the circumstances of solitary confinement for a continuum of unknown years amounts to human rights infractions and should require more national attention.

The consequences of years and decades on end on death row is the unintentional result of the lengthy appeals that condemned inmates are guaranteed — to ensure that none of their constitutional rights were violated during trial, which later turns out to be the situation in 58.2% percent of death penalty cases…according to recent studies. While death row inmates are across the country engage in these drawn-out legal battles they are subjected to dehumanizing effects of solitary confinement. This permitted isolation develops into years of what many classify as “no touch torture” and has been known to cause condemned inmates to exhibit what is recognized as “death row phenomenon”.
The term “death row phenomenon” is a legal term that was coined in 1989, during the extradition hearing held for Jen Soering, who was detained in prison in England pending extradition to the United States to face charges of murder in the state of Virginia. Soering’s legal team argue that the agonizing conditions he would endure in Virginia while on death row awaiting execution constituted cruel and degrading treatment. Soering lawfully argue that the endless time between sentencing and execution, and the harsh experience of living isolated with severely restricted freedom, limited touch with others, and continually under the fog of execution were ingredients of the phenomenon that would ultimately amount to psychological and physiological torture. The court would later rule in agreement with Soering’s arguments. Soon thereafter, others in different parts of the world began using the term to describe the cruelty of years on death row.
Since then, members of the United States Supreme Court have taken part in discussion on this matter, but the Court has never constitutionally address whether endless years of solitary confinement for condemned inmates awaiting execution violate their constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.
Despite one’s position on capital punishment our justice system is supposed to be built on fairness and humane treatment. But as a nation we must acknowledge that our current measures are failing. It is time to recognize the out-of-view harm that solitary confinement is known to inflict on condemned inmates in this country. Years and years of living in solitary confinement is clearly a double punishment for condemned prisoners. If we wish for our criminal justice system to rightly and justly mirror our values and fundamental principles of justice, then it is time for our society as a whole to give prompt attention to this human rights violation.

POPE: Death Penalty is ‘contrary to the Gospel’ By Cindy Wood

October 21, 2017

Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY —– The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.
 Marking the 25th anniversary of catechism of the Catholic church at the Vatican October 11th, Pope Francis said the catechism discussion of the death penalty, already formally amended by St. John Paul II, needs to be even more explicitly against capital punishment.
 Capital punishment, he said, “heavily wounds human dignity” and is an “inhuman measure.”
 “It is, in itself, contrary to the gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, and the last analysts, only God can be the true judge and guarantor,” the pope said.
 The death penalty, he said, not only extinguishes a human life, it extinguishes the possibility that the person, recognizing his or her errors, will request forgiveness and begin a new life.
 The Church’s position on the death penalty, he said, is one example of how church teaching is not static, but grows and deepens along with a growth in faith and in response to modern questions and concerns.
 In the past, when people did not see any other way for a society to defend itself against serious crimes and when “social maturity” was lacking, he said, people accepted the death penalty as “a logical consequence of the application of justice.”
 In fact, he said, the Church itself believed that, and the death penalty was a possible punishment in the Papal State. It was only in 1969 that Pope Paul IV formerly banned the death penalty, even though it had not been imposed since 1870.
 “Let us take responsibility for the past and recognize” that use of the death penalty was “dictated by a mentality that was more legalistic than Christian, Pope Francis said.
 The development of the church teaching, Pope Francis insisted, is not the same as contradicting or changing Church teachings.
 “The word of God,” he said, “cannot be saved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to protect against insects.” 

Keynote Speaker, Ndume Olatushani

1st Annual Fundraising Dinner,
Keynote Speaker: Ndume Olatushani

Ndume, spent 28 years of his life in prison…20 of those years was spent on death row in the State of Tennessee, for a crime he “did not” commit. When it appeared that new evidence would be able to prove his actual innocence, Tennessee judicial authorities offered him a rare Alford Plea agreement: if he agreed to the terms. The agreement meant that he would not be exonerated for the crime, but he would be released and walk out of prison a free man. If he rejected the Alford Plea it meant that he would stay in prison doing litigation, likely for many more years. Ndume accepted the plea offer. As a result he has been a free man since 2012. However, under the terms of the signed agreement he is still considered a convicted felon. Ndume also lost his rights for compensation, he has no right to vote, the jury and prosecutors who wrongfully convicted him will never have to confront their mistakes. But more importantly, the real perpetrator will never be pursued or face justice for the crime that was committed.

Art Raffle


Purchase: Annual Art Raffle Ticket(s)

Please consider supporting us in a small way by purchasing a raffle ticket. All proceeds will go directly towards Who Decides, Inc. programs.
*Suggested Donation: $10 per ticket or 5 tickets for $40
Date of Raffle Drawing: Saturday, October 28, 2017
*Exhibit Prize: Framed drawing of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
*Size: 11×14
*Frame Color: Black
*Medium: Graphite pencil on acid-free paper
*Artist: Kenneth Reams
Winner will be contacted by phone or email “on date of the drawing”. A video of the actual drawing will also be posted on this webpage.
For more information or to purchase tickets contact:
Donna Parks (501) 918-8048
Ticket puchasing deadline:
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017
Exhibit will be shipped by FIRST CLASS MAIL, to the winner.

Welcome to Who Decides, Inc. Who Decides, Inc. is a public-benefit organization. As a national network of activists, volunteers and dedicated people, we are committed to using various mediums of art such as creative writing, plays, visual art, dance, music and film as a way of educating society about the practice and history of capital punishment in America. The public events and forums that we present explore more than 400 years of the U.S. death penalty from all perspectives: the crime, the victims, the condemned, the methods of execution, and the laws. Our ultimate goal at Who Decides is to preserve the history of this controversial practice by establishing a national museum on the death penalty. This national museum will serve as an educational institution devoted to collecting, studying, exhibiting and interpreting America's extensive history on capital punishment.