CPF Members Attend DPF Awards Dinner–May 12, 2016


The Death Penalty Focus 25th Annual Awards Dinner was held at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on May 12th, 2016. The event was very well attended–a real tour de force. It featured Sir. Richard Branson, Mike Farrell, Joan Baez, Dolores Huerta and Jackson Browne. The event was hosted by Matt Cherry, Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus.


The program recognized a long list of deceased death penalty abolitionists, which included our dedicated CPF member, Kay Bandell. May she Rest in Peace.


Magdaleno Rose-Avila, with Witness to Innocence, introduced about 14 Exonorees, who had been convicted for crimes that they did not commit. The list included Franky Carrillo (20 years in prison), Albert Woodfox (43 years in solitary confinement), Alfred Dewayne Brown, Obie Anthony (16 years in prison), John Thompson (18 years in prison 14 years on death row), Gary Tyler (sentenced to death at 16, 42 years in prison) and Juan Melendez (18 years on death row). Witness to Innocence empowers Death Row Exonorees to work toward abolishing the Death Penalty.

Keynote Speaker Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson shared his views on the death penalty. He said that he always believed that the death penalty is cruel, barbaric and inhumane. He noted that the death penalty is an issue that affects everyone.

It is a violation of human rights that has no place in a civilized society. He said we all have a duty to work for its abolition across the world. Over the years, he has used his voice, and his resources, to take a stand against the death penalty in the US and elsewhere. Some countries – like Saudi-Arabia, Iran, China and Pakistan – continue to execute people at an alarming rate, with convictions that often follow legal proceedings that violate every standard of fairness and human decency.

Richard Branson’s support for the Justice That Works Campaign will be key.

Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell heads up the Justice That Works Campaign.   “I believe that no one should be executed, guilty or innocent. There are appropriate sanctions that protect society and punish wrongdoers without forcing us to stoop to the level of the least among us at his or her worst moment.”

Being a life-long opponent of the death penalty, Mike Farrell has debated and spoken about this issue on many occasions across the country.

Clearly not everyone shares his views on the death penalty. Some believe it is appropriate under certain circumstances for the state to take a life. Those who hold to that view, though, “must not only examine the issue on an abstract moral or philosophical plane, but should look carefully at the reality of what a death penalty system truly means in a society such as ours – what it does, who it impacts, who it serves – and what our moral obligation is with regard to the mistakes it makes.”

An alternative to the death penalty that Farrell believes appropriate is Life Imprisonment Without the Possibility of Parole. This means exactly what it says. Life imprisonment without ever having the chance to get out.

Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta has been a longtime fierce advocate for farm workers, immigration and women’s rights, and an opponent of the death penalty. She was awarded the Norman Felton and Denise Aubuchon Humanitarian Award presented by Magdaleno Rose-Avila.

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne, a longtime Human Rights activist, advocate on behalf of the environment and opponent of the death penalty was awarded the Justice in the Media and Arts Award, which was presented by Joan Baez

Matt Cherry

Matt Cherry deserves a lot credit for having forged a powerful coalition for the Justice That Works Campaign. In his remarks to the audience he noted that support for ending the death penalty now stands at 60%. He said that over 600K signatures were submitted to the Attorney General for validation. Only 300K signatures are required to qualify for the ballot.   He said that $4 million has been spent for the signature gathering. For a successful campaign we need to raise $10 million.

With the resources that have been established, we are well positioned to end the death penalty in California.   However, now that the pro-death penalty initiative appears to have submitted enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, we need a united front to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

California People of Faith

California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty has endorsed the Justice That Works Ballot Initiative. The Awards Dinner was well attended by CPF Members (see attached photo).

Terry McCaffrey
May 20, 2016

Pope Calls for Worldwide Abolition of Death Penalty
Sunday, February, 21, 2016

Pope Francis on Sunday called for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, saying the commandment, “You shall not kill” was absolute and equally valid for the guilty as for the innocent. (Click on link above for full story.)


CDCR Extends Written Comment Period on Administration of the Death Penalty

If you have not already commented, the CDCR has extended its public comment period on their proposed guidelines for administering the death penalty in California to April 6, 2016. Written comments should be directed to:

Timothy M. Lockwood
Chief, Regulation and Policy Management Branch
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001

They may be submitted by telephone to (916) 445-2269, by fax at (916) 324-6075, or by e-mail at LI.comments@cdcr.ca.gov. If Mr. Lockwood is unavailable, inquires should be directed to Joshua Jugum at (916) 445-2228.

Here is a Lethal Injection Fact Sheet and sample letter.

Los Angeles Chaplain Questions New Death Penalty Protocols

January 28, 2016

The hearing held by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) last Friday, was the opportunity for the public to voice their concerns over the new death penalty protocols put forth by the CDCR.

The main areas of concern at the public hearing were how the drugs would be acquired, role of chaplains/spiritual advisors, projected costs of executions, counseling for staff and missing documentation on the research compiled by CDCR.

Speaking on behalf of the California Catholic Bishops was Father George Horan. He is the former co-director of Restorative Justice for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and now is the Founder and Chair of Healing Hearts, Restoring Hope. Fr. Horan is currently a volunteer chaplain at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.

He decried the fact that the spiritual advisers who attended to condemned inmates must leave three hours before an execution is carried out and noted that in accordance with the Catholic faith and canon law, confessions cannot be conducted by phone.

He stressed that the new protocols should offer more counseling to staff everyone who witnesses an execution. Fr. Horan said that he could not imagine what these officers go through watching these inmates die and that when witnesses are brought in to watch executions, new victims are created. He recounted the story of one officer so hardened by his work on Death Row, that he was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“To me, it just seems insane that we invite people to witness executions,” Horan said. “Gang members don’t do that.”

You can still voice your opposition to these protocols. The deadline for public comment was extended until Feb. 22.

To read the new protocols, click here

– See more at: http://www.cacatholic.org/los-angeles-chaplain-questions-new-death-penalty-protocols#sthash.n4ZLKDm8.dpuf


Field Poll: Californians Split on the Death Penalty

In an ongoing shift in public opinion about the death penalty in California, the number of state voters who favor doing away with capital punishment has grown to virtually the same size as those seeking to speed up the execution process, according to a new poll.

Read more here: Californians Split on Death Penalty



I am very excited to announce the launch of the Justice That Works Act of 2016, a ballot initiative to replace California’s dysfunctional and costly death penalty system.

This initiative will re-sentence the nearly 750 people currently on death row in our state to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Life in prison will replace the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for first degree murder in California.

The initiative will also put them to work: all the death row inmates re-sentenced to life, and anyone else sentenced to life without parole, will be required to work in prison and to pay most of their wages as restitution to their victims’ families. On top of all this, the initiative will save us $150 million every year according to the state’s own estimate.

You may recall that in 2012 Proposition 34 came within two percentage points of replacing the death penalty. In the course of that campaign, much was learned and accomplished. Now, standing on the shoulders of that effort, we are in a great position to win that missing two percent of the vote.

Since 2012, public support for the death penalty in California has fallen by double digits as more people recoil at the botched executions, miscarriages of justice, and exorbitant costs of this broken system. In that same time, the nationwide trend against capital punishment has continued – Maryland and Nebraska have both replaced the death penalty and four other states have imposed moratoriums.

It is imperative that we capitalize on all this positive momentum and win at the ballot box next year. Since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978, at least $5 billion has been spent to sentence more than 900 people to death, 13 of whom have been executed. If you do the math, you’ll see that works out to about $385 million per execution.

California has by far the largest death row in the nation, with one quarter of all of America’s condemned inmates here, and we continue to sentence far more people to death than any other state. It is time for California to quit leading the western world in death sentences and instead lead the movement to replace the death penalty with justice that works.

We are already gathering signatures; please watch for us as you shop. We will need 365,880 signatures by May to ensure qualification for the November ballot. In the meantime, the campaign is ramping up and we will need your help in order to win. If you are interested in helping the campaign in any way, big or small, please click here and tell us how. 

We will certainly need financial support in order to fully fund our campaign budget and I would deeply appreciate your consideration of making a donation now or setting up a recurring monthly contribution today. Please click here for more details. 

With your help, we will wake up on November 9, 2016, having closed the largest death row in the western world. Between now and then, there is a lot that must be done and I look forward to working with you to accomplish that goal.

My best to you,

Mike Farrell
Proponent, Justice That Works Act of 2016
President, Taxpayers for Sentencing Reform

PS. For more information, please visit our website: www.justicethatworks.org and don’t forget to follow the campaign on Twitter and like us on Facebook.



Take Action on the Department of Corrections New Lethal Injection Protocol

The Department of Corrections has issued new regulations for a one-drug lethal injection protocol. This protocol provides for the use of one of the following drugs for the execution: Amobarbital, Secobarbital, Pentobarbital, or Thiopental.   Amobarbital and Secobarbital have never been used for lethal injection.

The following are ways that you can help:

E-mail or mail comments to:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Regulation and Policy Management Branch
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
Email: LI.comments@cdcr.ca.gov

Written comments must be received by January 22, 2016 at 5 pm. Here is a Lethal Injection Fact Sheet and sample letter.

Public Hearing will be held on January 22, 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm in the Auditorium
Department of Health Services
East End Complex
1500 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95814.

How you can get involved and help!

  • Share the online action alerts below via email and your social networks. Encourage your networks to help by issuing a comment and objecting to the regulations.
  • Distribute post cards at a community event or church (email tdarcangelew@aclunc.org to receive a package in the mail)
  • Submit a comment on behalf of your organization, group, church, etc. If you are interested in submitting a comment on behalf of your organization, let me know by emailing me directly at azamora@aclunc.org. I can help you outline a comment that contains a lengthier objection to the regulations.
  • Send an email blast to your organization or group email list. We can help you create your own action alert, or you can simply link to the DPF/Care2.org petition below. If you are interested in this, please email me at azamora@aclunc.org and we will help you set one up.


 1) Factsheet about proposed lethal injection regulation, the public comment process and sample comment

Attached is a factsheet and a sample comment that we have drafted that includes 8 substantive objections to the proposed regulations.  This tool provides helpful information about the process. Also, I have created a landing page on the ACLU website with more information. www.aclunc.org/lethalinjections

2) Online Action Alerts

Death Penalty Focus/Care2 Petition

Available at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/976/930/232/california-dont-use-flawed-laws-to-bring-back-the-death-penalty/

This is a fantastic online tool that automatically generates and emails a comment to the CDCR when a user signs the petition. It has already generated over 9,000 comments! Thanks to David from DPF for setting this up. Please share this far and wide!

ACLU Action Alert

Available at: https://ssl.capwiz.com/aclu/ca/issues/alert/?alertid=68610646&type=CU

This is an online action that generates and emails a comment to the CDCR. This will allow users to add in a personal message to their comment.

 Others coming soon! As the comment period progresses, we hope to have online action alerts from Credo and MoveOn.org. I will send those around once they are live.

3) Snail Mail Postcards

We have printed out post cards in English and Spanish that contain different combinations of objections to the regulations. Volunteers around the state have been sent packets of postcards and will be distributing them in their local communities. If you would like a package of postcards, please let Tessa know by emailing her at: tdarcangelew@aclunc.org.

Lawyering for the People: Kevin Cooper, the Death Penalty & Mass Incarceration
A panel presented by the San Francisco Law School & UC Hastings Chapters of the National Lawyers Guild
When: Friday, November 6, 2015
Where: UC Hastings College of Law, Room A, 198 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Please join our esteemed panel for a discussion of the legal issues surrounding the wrongful conviction of Kevin Cooper, the death penalty and mass incarceration of People of Color.

In 1983, Kevin Cooper was convicted and sentenced to death row for the killing of a family of four in Chino Hills, San Bernardino County. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest. Mr. Cooper was scheduled to be executed in 2004, but was granted a stay of execution by the 9th Circuit. On May 11, 2009, his petition for habeas corpus was denied en banc, upon which five judges of the 9th Circuit dissented, stating that they believed he was innocent based on evidence tampering by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.


KEVIN COOPER–Mr. Cooper will be participating on the panel from San Quentin.

AMIR VARICK AMMA, Organizer, All of Us or None–Mr. Amma is a survivor of New York State’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, and was wrongfully sentenced to 25 years to life. After serving over 19 years, Mr. Amma was released from prison and earned his BA in Social Work from Lehman College. Mr. Amma has over 20 years of experience as a community activist for such organizations as ComAlert, the Drug Policy Alliance, and Samaritan Village out of NY.

BICKA BARLOW, Law Office of Bicka Barlow–
Prior to establishing her private law practice specializing in forensic DNA evidence, Ms. Barlow was the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office sole DNA Attorney for 8 years, and Research Attorney for the San Francisco Superior Court. She received her BS in Genetics from UC Berkeley, MS in Genetics and Developmental Biology from Cornell University, and JD from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

NORMAN C. HILE, Senior Counsel, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe–
Mr. Hile has represented Mr. Cooper since 2003. Mr. Hile served on the Ninth Circuit Advisory Board from 2007 to 2011, and as Chair of the Judicial Advisory Board, Eastern District of California from 1998 to 2000. He received his BA from Yale University and JD from Columbia University.

CAROLE SELIGMAN, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee–
Ms. Seligman is a retired elementary school teacher, parent and grandparent, is a member of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the co-editor of Socialist Viewpoint magazine, and the office manager at Prison Radio.

For additional information, please contact San Francisco Law School NLG Representative Tarina Yasmoothr at tarinalarsen@gmail.com.


San Francisco Event Features Distributing Pizza to the Poor and Sister Helen Prejean–October 10, 2015

Prejean Event Poster10-10-15


Pope Francis’ Address to September 24, 2015 Joint Session of Congress

Pope Francis made an impassioned plea Thursday for the U.S. to abolish the death penalty in his address to Congress.

The pope has long been an opponent of capital punishment and has also spoken out against life imprisonment.

“I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes,” he said.

Bishops and priests in the U.S. recently called for the death penalty to be abolished, a push Francis said he supports, mainly because a “just” punishment should “never” forget “hope.”

Here are his full comments below:

“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

In the U.S., capital punishment remains legal in 31 states, and as of July 2015, 3,002 inmates were awaiting execution across the country.

California Defends Its Review Process in Appeal to Preserve the Death Penalty

A federal appeals panel on Monday heard the state’s argument against a 2014 ruling that could bring a reprieve to all the inmates on death row in California.


California death-penalty delays put on trial

By Howard Mintz

In a case that may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court on Monday will review a ruling last year declaring California’s ‘dysfunctional’ death penalty law unconstitutional because of systemic delays in a state with more than a quarter of the nation’s condemned inmates.  2015-8-31 6:56:00 A.M.


Pope Francis meets with Buddhist leaders: “these small gestures are seeds of peace”2015-06-24

A dialogue between Catholic and Buddhist religious and social action leaders began today at the Vatican. Pope Francis stopped by the meeting, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran gave a welcoming address.

“We have been engaged in discussing how to collaborate together in a world of divisions.”

The Pope then made some brief remarks that were translated to English as he spoke.

“It is a visit of fraternity, of dialogue, and of friendship. And this is good. This is healthy. And in these moments, which are wounded by war and hatred, these small gestures are seeds of peace and fraternity. I thank you for this and may God bless you.”

As he went to greet everyone, Pope Francis was overwhelmed with gifts: from different kinds of artwork to books.

The 46 participants all live in America. They came from New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

“Your Holiness, thank you for your leadership.”

While receiving gifts, the Pope also gave blessings.

And the Pope himself received a Buddhist blessing.

“Holy Father, this is a Buddhist blessing.”

In the past, dialogues between the two religious groups focused on mutual understanding. However, in this meeting, the focus is on how they can work together to address social problems.

Pope Francis clearly enjoyed the event, as he was beaming on his way out of the meeting.

The dialogue will take place from June 23rd to 27th. It is being hosted by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Rev. Alan Senauke, of California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty, was part of the delegation. His remarks on the meeting follow below.

Rev. Alan Senauke on his meeting with Pope Francis. June 24, 2015

Our dialogue group of about fifty had a wonderful audience with Pope Francis yesterday. He met each one of us with presence and warmth, taking a moment to touch and to listen. A true human, deeply ordinary in the best sense of the word. I was privileged to be there and to hand Pope Francis a letter from California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty asking him to speak out against the madness of capital punishment in California and everywhere…more later.

Senauke-Pope-Francis picture


Opportunity for Matching Funds

One of our members has committed $500 in matching funds. Whatever you contribute will be matched up to $500. This is a great time to contribute to our efforts to end the death penalty in California and in the United States.  All contributions are fully deductible.

Letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, U.S. Apostolic Nuncio

May 14, 2015


The Death Penalty Ends in Nebraska



Why death penalty is dying a slow death

—George F. Will, San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, May 21, 2015, page A17



Marty Stroud, Prosecutor Who Put Innocent Man on Death Row: ‘Whole System Is Fatally Flawed’

Huffington Post Crime, April 1, 2015



Pope: Death Penalty Represents ‘Failure,’ Fosters Vengeance

—Frances D’Emilio, Associated press, March 20, 2015



Editorial: Catholic publications call for end to capital punishment

New Organization Formed to Oppose the Death Penalty


Mission Statement:  We, Clergy Against State Executions, (brothers and sisters) come together to empower California’s diverse faith communities to end the death penalty through advocacy, education and prayer.


Pope Francis calls for the end of the death penalty as well as the practice of sentencing people to life without possibility of parole, “the hidden death penalty.”!!!


 Rally at California Supreme Court

On October 10th, 2014 the San Francisco Bay Area CPF Chapter led a rally at the Supreme Court Building in San Francisco, California. This group focussed on the injustice of executing the mentally ill.


20141010-_DM30283-SF demo

20141010-_48A0074-SF demo























World Day Against the Death Penalty

On October 5th, 2014, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of CPF observed WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY by hosting a demonstration on Lytton Plaza in Palo Alto California. Speakers included Father River Damien Sims, Rick Walker, an exoneree released from San Quentin’s death row, Mary Kay Raftery, mother of a murder victim (pictured below) and Gerard McGuire with California People of Faith.

Chris Lundin and the Raging Grannies provided musical entertainment. For more pictures, see Local Chapter Action page.

Mother of murder victim.