Mississippi inmate executed







A death row prisoner was executed by lethal injection today for sexually assaulting and beating his former boss’s wife to death with an axe handle in 1995.

Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, was pronounced dead at 6.18 pm at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, authorities said.

Puckett was an 18-year-old Eagle Scout when he was convicted of the murder of Rhonda Hatten Griffis, a 28-year-old mother of two, who was found dead in her mobile home on October 14, 1995.

Executed: Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, (right) was killed by lethal injection in Mississippi today after he murdered Rhonda Hatten Griffis at her home when he was 18 (left)
Executed: Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, (right) was killed by lethal injection in Mississippi today after he murdered Rhonda Hatten Griffis at her home when he was 18 (left)

Executed: Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, (right) was killed by lethal injection in Mississippi today after he murdered Rhonda Hatten Griffis at her home when he was 18 (left)

Puckett had previously worked as a landscaper for the woman’s husband David Griffis in Hattiesburg, Mississippi but was due to ship out for basic training with the Navy.

The young woman’s mother Nancy Hatten said she had discovered the teenage Puckett in the home with her daughter’s dead body holding a club.

She said Puckett tried to blame the woman’s husband, who arrived shortly afterwards and scuffled with the man. Puckett fled and was arrested two days later.

Puckett’s supporters protested up until the hour of his execution claiming that Mrs Griffis’ husband had killed her in a jealous rage. Puckett had also claimed that he had been having an affair with the woman and her husband caught them.

How the victim’s mother said she found Puckett in the home holding an axe handle, which prosecutors believed was used in the killing.

Retribution: Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps hugs Nancy Hatten, mother of murder victim Rhonda Hatten Griffis, following the execution of Larry Matthew PuckettRetribution: Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps hugs Nancy Hatten, mother of murder victim Rhonda Hatten Griffis, following the execution of Larry Matthew Puckett

Protest to the end: Mary Puckett led protesters last week as they made a last appeal to stop her son's execution in Mississippi Protest to the end: Mary Puckett led protesters last week as they made a last appeal to stop her son’s execution in Mississippi

Nancy Hatten told The Associated Press last week: ‘I caught him in her house with the club in his hand. Her husband wasn’t anywhere on the premises at the time. He drove up later.’

After fleeing the home, the 18-year-old was captured and although he confessed to being at the home to rob it, he always denied killing the mother of two.

Puckett has been sentenced to death on August 5, 1996.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family.’

Governor Bryant who denied a last-minute appeal from Larry Matthew Puckett

Puckett’s mother Mary led supporters to rally against her son’s death sentence at the state Capitol in Jackson and appealed to Governor Phil Bryant to reduce the sentence to life without parole.

Governor Bryant issued a statement last week which read: ‘In light of Mr. Puckett’s having been convicted by a jury of his peers more than 15 years ago and after a review of the facts associated with his case, I have decided not to grant clemency and will not delay the execution.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family.’

In his last hours, Puckett spent time with family and a spiritual adviser.

According to gulflive.com, he ate a last meal of Macadamia nut pancakes, shrimp and grits, ice cream cake, caramel candy and root beer.

Puckett had asked that his relatives and lawyer not be present for his execution but Mrs Griffis’ parents were on the witness list.

Some 4,000 people had signed an online petition set up by Puckett’s mother to try to persuade Governor Bryant to stop the execution.

Last moments: Puckett was killed by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at 6pm in front of his victim's parentsLast moments: Puckett was killed by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at 6pm in front of his victim’s parents

Protest: Demonstrators against the death penalty gathered outside the prison where the 35-year-old was killedProtest: Demonstrators against the death penalty gathered outside the prison where the 35-year-old was killed


Mississippi denies Jeffrey Havards appeal

The Mississippi Supreme Court has denied – for the second time – a post-conviction appeal from convicted murderer Jeffrey Keith Havard.

The court said Thursday that Havard had raised no new issues that deserved consideration. Havard’s first post-conviction petition was denied in 2008.

Havard was convicted in 2002 of capital murder and sentenced to death in Adams County for killing a 6-month-old girl.

Inmates use a post-conviction petition to argue they have found new evidence – or a possible constitutional issue – that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

Havard was convicted of killing Chloe Madison Britt of Ferriday, La., the daughter of his girlfriend. Prosecutors say the infant’s injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, but she also had suffered from sexual abuse.

Two new executions set for Alabama Death Row inmates








The Alabama Supreme Court has set a new date for Tommy Arthur’s execution to be on March29, 2012. This is the fifth time his execution date has been set. Arthur, now 70, was convicted of the murder-for-hire killing of Troy Wicker, businessman of Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1982 and was placed on Death Row in 1983.

The story of Arthur is rather bizarre. It began on February 1, 1982. Muscle Shoals, Alabama police received an urgent call to the home of Troy and Judy Wicker. When they arrived, they found Troy Wicker dead in his bed and found 4 expended .22 caliber cartridge shells on his bed. Judy Wicker was lying on the floor with traces of blood on her head while her sister, Teresa Rowland knelt beside her.

Judy told police that she had driven the children to school and upon returning home she found a black man there who had shot her husband and that he knocked her unconscious and raped her.

However, she was subsequently charged with her husband’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Tommy Arthur was implicated as the hit man, but the case was not certain without the testimony of Judy Wicker. So a deal was made with Wicker for an early release for here testimony.

Wicker explained that her husband Troy was physically violent with her, and that Rowland and Troy often argued when Troy threatened to turn Rowland in to the police for the arson on her home which he had committed for her.

She also testified that she had known Arthur since they were both young and worked at Tidwell Homes. She revealed that she, Rowland, and Rowland’s boyfriend, Theron McKinney had discussed killing Troy beginning in early 1981.

Arthur was hired to kill Troy and Judy testified that when Arthur went in to the house, she heard a shot and that he then hit her and knocked out some teeth and lacerated her lip. Much more evidence was shown at his trial. He was convicted and sentenced to death. After over 25 years on death row and numerous appeals, he has had 5 dates set for his execution. Barring any unexpected delays or stays, however, it is highly likely that he will be executed this time on March 29, 2012.

The other death row inmate who’s execution was set, is that of Carey Dale Grayson which is now set for April 12, 2012.

Grayson, who was 19 years old in 1994, with 3 other teenagers was traveling on Interstate 59 in north Alabama when he picked up a lady hitchhiker. Vicki DeBlieux, 37 was enroute from Chattanooga, Tennessee to West Monroe, Louisiana to see hr mother there. They promised to take her to her mother’s home, but rather drove to a wooded area where they attempted to have sexual relations with her. When she rebuffed their sexual advances, they beat her with beer bottles, kicked and stomped her and threw her over a cliff. Later, three returned and disemboweled her and cut off her fingers to try and hide her identification. They kept the fingers as souvenirs. They were soon caught when the youngest one began showing others one of her fingers. Grayson and one other were sentenced to death and the other two were given life imprisonment. Grayson is now due to be executed on April 18.

When prison illness becomes a death sentence








wo in every five inmates in US prisons have a chronic medical condition. Terrell Griswold, due for release last year, was one

Terrell Griswold

Terrell Griswold, who died, aged 26, while serving a three-year sentence in Bent County Correctional Facility, Colorado.

On 28 October 2010, Lagalia Afola received a phone call from the Bent County Correctional Facility, a private prison operated by the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), informing her that her 26-year-old son, Terrell Griswold, was dead. Terrell was serving a three-year sentence for burglary and was due to be released in early 2011. Sadly for him, and for his grieving family, he never made it home.

The autopsy report stated that Terrell died as a result of “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” and that he had a clinical history of hypertension, for which he refused to take medication. His mother found this conclusion hard to accept and, after months of persistent enquiry, was finally provided with at least some of her son’s medical records. Upon reviewing the records, she discovered that her son had been suffering from a blockage in his prostate that prevented him from urinating properly, causing chronic kidney damage, and which, she believes, ultimately contributed to his abrupt demise.

This blockage in Terrell’s prostate was discovered on 3 December 2009 by Dr David Oba, an attending physician at the CCA prison. The doctor noted at the time that inmate Griswold reported having had problems passing urine for the past two months:

“He has the urge to void but sometimes is unable to void at all, other times he has a very weak stream but is able to void.”

The doctor also noted that he had discussed with the patient that “he may have a chronic sub-acute prostatitis”, which he planned to treat with a 30-day cycle of ciprofloxacin (Cipro). If there was no improvement he wrote that “he may need an eval [sic] with cystoscope with urology.”

According to the records seen (pdf), Terrell was never treated by an urologist during his entire stay at the CCA facility, and it appears he did not receive the Cipro for almost six months. On 27 January 2010, Terrell had a follow-up visit with a nurse. The nurse’s report of the visit reads as follows:

“I/M (inmate) to medical to discuss non-compliance re: HCTZ & Lisinopril. (Both drugs were to treat hypertension and high blood pressure). Per I/M he has the meds in cell but states he forgets to take meds. I/M agrees to take meds as ordered.”

She goes on to write: “I/M also reports he never received Cipro for his urinary problem.” She reviews his charts and confirms that the Cipro was never ordered. Following this visit, there are several “Refusal of Treatment Medical Release Forms” dated 5, 13 and 24 February, 10 and 15 March, which appear to have been completed on Inmate Griswold’s behalf but which he “refused to sign”.

There appears to be no record of any visits with the medical team regarding his urinary complaint for several months. His next visit with a nurse (other than to deal with an issue regarding a swollen knee), according to the records I reviewed (pdf), was on 16 August 2010. The nurse notes again that “I/M non-compliant re: medication regimen. Last pick up 5/14/10.” This note is somewhat at odds with Terrell’s monthly medication records, which list all the medications he is taking each month. In May, June and July, the listed medications include HCTZ, Lisinopril and Cipro. If what the nurse stated on 16 August 2010 was true, that Griswold had not picked up his medications since 14 May 2010, then why did the records list all these medications (including Cipro) for the intervening months?

Whatever the explanation, it is clear from what followed is that Terrell Griswold’s urinary complaint never went away.

Close to midnight on 22 October 2010, Terrell declared a medical self-emergency (pdf) and was taken from his cell to the prison clinic. He complained of “diarrhea, dizziness, tingling in his fingers and feet, has an odd smell in nose like bleach or ammonia, feels like his throat is closing up, has acid reflux when awake and pain in epigrastic area.” He did not see a doctor because the doctor was not there; but the doctor did prescribe Bactrim, an antibiotic used to treat infections, over the phone. The nurse noted on her report that inmate Griswold was instructed to take his meds as ordered, told to follow up in 24-48 hours if no better, and was sent back to his cell. She ticked the box that said “no acute distress”.

On 24 October 2010, Griswold got to see the doctor. But according to the records, the doctor performed no tests, did not take a blood pressure reading, and simply wrote the words “UTI” (urinary tract infection) in the assessment section. During this period, Terrell’s cellmate later reported that he was making frequent attempts to urinate.

Three days later, on 27 October 2010, Griswold began vomiting in his cell and was sent to the nurse at 7.30pm. The nurse informed her patient that his antibiotic was making him sick. She ordered him to return to his cell and wrote: “He did not show any outward signs of distress that would have warranted he needed emergency treatment.”

Eleven hours later, at 6.30am, Terrell Griswold was found slumped over his toilet bowl, lifeless. His condition finally warranted emergency treatment (pdf) and the full capacity of the CCA’s medical team kicked in; CPR was administered, the patient was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7.24am. It was noted on his death certificate that his bladder was full of urine.

When a prisoner is deprived of their liberty by the state, they cannot provide themselves with food, water or medical care. For this reason, the state has to assume the responsibility for meeting those basic needs. A private prison that is run for profit has the same obligation to meet these basic needs; otherwise, the prisoner would be deprived of life, a violation of their most basic constitutional rights.

I asked Steve Owen, the senior director of public affairs for the CCA, if he felt that Terrell Griswold had been provided with adequate medical care. He would not comment on Griswold’s specific case, citing privacy reasons, but he sent a fact sheet (pdf), which, he said, “summarizes both the scope and commitment to quality inmate healthcare services that our company provide and to which our government partners hold us accountable.”

The fact sheet claims, among other things, that every CCA facility is equipped with a fully-staffed, state-of-the-art medical clinic, which is available for inmate access 24/7; that all care-related decisions are made solely on a medical basis, entirely independent of impact on CCA profits. It also states that CCA facilities utilize an innovative computer program that automates medical records, pill call and pharmacy services, which reduces paperwork and wait times.

Lagalia Afola wrote to Dr Leon Kelly, the coroner who performed her son’s autopsy, detailing her objection to his initial conclusion that her son had died of “hypertensive cardiovascular disease”. When he reviewed the new information, the coroner issued a revised autopsy (pdf), listing obstructive uropathy as one of the causes of death. Dr Kelly told me that he believed the successive urinary episodes led to kidney failure, which “certainly contributed to [Terrell’s] sudden cardiac death”.

At this point, however, the cause of death is of less concern to Mrs Afola than the fact of it. “My son was sentenced to three years for burglary,” she said. “It was not supposed to be a death sentence.”

According to bureau of justice statistics (pdf), around 4,000 inmates died in prison and jails (both public and private) in 2009; and over half of those deaths were illness-related. A comprehensive nationwide survey on the health and healthcare of US prisoners carried out by Harvard Medical School researchers (pdf) found that over 40% of US inmates were suffering from a chronic medical condition, a far higher rate than other Americans of similar age. Of these sick inmates, over 20% in state prisons, 68% in jails and 13.9% in federal prisons had not seen a doctor or nurse since incarceration.

One of the authors of the study, Dr Andrew Wilper, told me they did not include private prisons in their study because, to the best of his knowledge, there was no data available. In his view, he added, “the private prisons like it that way.”

Interested parties can write to:

Sadhbh Walshe
PO box 1466
New York, NY 10150

Or send an email to:


Walking tour of Jeffrey Dahmer’s hunting grounds causes backlash in Milwaukee









A planned walking tour of the Milwaukee haunts where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer trolled for victims has drawn protests from victims’ family members and others, prompting online deal-maker Groupon to cancel its promotion for discounted tickets.

Critics of the tour, including family members of some of the young men Dahmer murdered, say the it is an attempt to exploit an ugly part of the city’s history and want it stopped before the first sightseers hit the sidewalks.

But tour-organizer Bam Marketing and Media has said it’s not deterred. Each of the company’s first two trips through the Walker’s Point neighborhood, scheduled for Saturday, had nearly reached the 20-person capacity by Thursday, said spokeswoman Amanda Morden.

Walker’s Point Association president Victor Ray said Saturday, or any day in the near future, is too soon. Dahmer’s crimes are just two decades old and many of his victims’ family members are still around, he said.

“I just don’t think this is the right timing,” Ray said. “And a tour of the area is not the right thing to do. It’s sensationalism in its finest.”

Dahmer, a chocolate factory worker, spent years frequenting Walker’s Point-area gay bars. He was arrested in 1991 and admitted killing 17 young men, some of whom he mutilated and cannibalized. He was serving life prison sentences when a fellow inmate beat him to death in 1994.

The apartment building where Dahmer stored body parts eventually was razed. Walker’s Point now sits in the middle of a revitalized section of Milwaukee, with new restaurants and bars in remodeled buildings that once housed the bars where Dahmer went.

Ray said most of dozens of emails he’s received this week have criticized the tour, and there are plans by victims’ relatives and others to protest the first tour Saturday afternoon. Ray said one victim’s mother specifically asked for his group’s help.

“She said ‘Do what you can to stop it,’” Ray said. The woman did not want to be interviewed by reporters.

Morden said Friday they still plan to hold the tour, but she has spoken to police and they will be present. She said they will allow tour-goers to attend another tour if they don’t want to deal with the protesters and expected media, but no one has rescheduled or canceled.

“I fully respect and expect people to utilize their right to peacefully assemble,” she said.

Morden said the Bam Marketing is sensitive to victims’ families, but has not sought their feedback.

“We are not being evasive in any way,” she said. “If there is a concern we would be happy to address it.”

Morden said her group hopes to put a plaque with the victims’ names on one of the businesses in the area as a memorial. She also said a portion of the tour profits will be donated to charity, although a specific one hasn’t been chosen.

Ray called it a token gesture.

“I don’t think that’s going to make a difference to the community,” he said.

Ray met tour group representatives Thursday in hopes of persuading them to call off their plans. But Morden said the group is offering a legitimate look at Dahmer’s crimes from a historical perspective, rather than with macabre fascination.

Groupon had earlier this week offered two tour tickets for $25, instead of the normal $60, for what it called a 1-mile, 90-minute “spine-chilling glimpse” into Dahmer’s life. Only 15 tickets sold before the daily-deal website closed the promotion. Spokesman Nicholas Halliwell said in an emailed statement that it was never Groupon’s intention to offend anyone.

It’s not unusual for gruesome crimes to become part of a city’s lore and draw. There are tours in London about Jack the Ripper, in Los Angeles about Charles Manson, and in Boston about the Boston Strangler.

But the VISIT Milwaukee tourism group won’t be promoting Dahmer.

“We don’t need to give notoriety to an individual like Jeffrey Dahmer who did painful and hurtful things and did nothing to further the community’s image,” spokeswoman Jeannine Sherman said.

Morden, though, compared the tour to a book or documentary, just in a different format.

“Whether we like it or not it’s part of our city’s history,” she said. “It’s part of our nation’s history.”

Sara Drescher, who manages a pub in the neighborhood, sees more of a gray area. She said she supports people being able to start a business but not at the expense of victims’ families.

“It’s a difficult thing, and I don’t know the right way for it to be handled,” she said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Guards watch as inmate commits suicide








Family had battle for two years for right to see 23-minute footage


Last updated at 10:10 PM on 1st March 2012

Failed: Anthony Lester, 26, committed suicide in a Tucson prison cell after the schizophrenic patient was mistakenly given a razor by guardsFailed: Anthony Lester, 26, committed suicide in a Tucson prison cell after the schizophrenic patient was mistakenly given a razor by guards

The family of a mentally ill man who committed suicide in his prison cell have seen horrific footage for the first time which shows the 26-year-old bleeding to death while guards stand around and watch.

Anthony Lester took his own life after he was mistakenly given razors in a prisoner hygiene pack.

He cut his wrists and jugular vein in a shared cell in Tucson, Arizona.

The Lester family have battled with the state for almost two years to gain access to the footage, filmed by one of the guards Umberto Hernandez who went to Lester’s cell after the alarm was raised in July 2010.

Correction officers can allegedly be seen doing nothing for 23 minutes while the young man bled heavily from his wounds while lying on a top bunk bed.

None of the officers attempted to save his life by staunching the bleeding, said Lester’s family and their lawyer who have seen the tape, according to 12 News.

Instead the guards wandered around the cell while one wondered if the prisoner, who was still alive, had left a ‘suicide note’.

His family filed a claim last January against the state for $3million alleging that the Department of Correction’s (DOC) substandard treatment of patients with mental illness led to the 26-year-old’s death.

Anthony Lester had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in high school and had struggled with his condition, self-harming as a teenager. He told family that the voices were ‘getting worse’.

In 2007, he stabbed two female friends at a party and was sentenced to 12 years for aggravated assault.

After receiving medication he was deemed to be fit for trial but a judge and court-appointed psychiatrist advised Lester should be housed in a facility where he would receive the necessary mental health treatment.


Horror: The aftermath of the cell in the Arizona prison where Anthony Lester slit his throat and wristsHorror: The aftermath of the cell in the Arizona prison where Anthony Lester slit his throat and wrists

Emergency: A pool of blood can be seen on the floor. The prisoner was mistakenly given razor blades by prison guards despite the fact he had been on suicide watchEmergency: A pool of blood can be seen on the floor. The prisoner was mistakenly given razor blades by prison guards despite the fact he had been on suicide watch

However he was placed in the general population of inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson, went off his medication and was sent to a unit for behavioral problems.

In June 2010 he had tried to kill himself in prison – but was taken off suicide watch two days prior to his death and put into a shared cell.

The mentally ill man cut into his neck, wrists and legs and one image showed that in his disturbed state, he wrote ‘voices’ on the wall in his own blood.

After the alarm was raised, guards rushed to the cell. In a recording of the 911 call, one officer was heard saying that a prisoner has ‘severely cut himself’.

Vulnerable: Corrections officers said at an investigation that they didn't go to Lester's help because they thought he had a concealed weaponVulnerable: Corrections officers said at an investigation that they didn’t go to Lester’s help because they thought he had a concealed weapon

Nightmare: Lester's aunt Patti Jones (right) and his mother (left) have both watched the footage where the young man can be seen bleeding to death in his prison cell while guards stand around talkingNightmare: Lester’s aunt Patti Jones (right) and his mother (left) have both watched the footage where the young man can be seen bleeding to death in his prison cell while guards stand around talking

His aunt Patti Jones watched the distressing footage of her nephew’s last moments along with the young man’s mother.

She told 12 News that on the film, guards wandered around the cell, wondering out loud whether there was a suicide note.

She told the station: ‘Someone then says: ”I think he’s expired” and Tony’s breath gets shallower.’

The four prison guards on duty that night were later suspended and investigated including Hernandez and a guard with 13 years experience, Orlando Pope.

They said they had not tried to save Lester because his hand was concealed by a blanket and they believed he had a weapon.

Failures: The family of Tony Lester are suing Arizona state claiming that their mentally ill relative was negligently treated in prisonFailures: The family of Tony Lester are suing Arizona state claiming that their mentally ill relative was negligently treated in prison

His aunt Mrs Jones angrily denied this allegation, telling 12 News that her nephew was ‘weak and vulnerable’.

She added: ‘No one knew his medical history… no one knew his name.’

‘No one knew his medical history… no one knew his name.’

Patti Jones, aunt

According to the family, in the footage  paramedics rusedh in and wheeled the seriously injured prisoner out on a stretcher.

Officer Pope followed, carrying shackles and chains.

The Arizona Department of Corrections did not   reply to a request for comment by MailOnline today.

Distressing images of Lester’s body after his death show wounds to his neck and wrist held together with staples.

In tapes from the internal investigation, the most senior guard Orlando Pope was asked: ‘So you guys just stood around for 23 minutes and watched this guy bleed to death?’

Pope answered: ‘No, we kept trying to call him, get his attention and get him to say something… but he was still breathing.’

Pope also told the internal committee that he did not believe he had adequate first-aid training.

Another unidentified officer told the investigation: ‘…and the amount of blood that was there, was really kind of hard to get close to him without literally wallowing in it, to be honest with you.’

Anthony Lester’s family was seeking $3 million in damages to compensate Lester’s mother and his young daughter.


(R2J) Video can be seen via link below




Mark Clements reincarcerated







Hello all,
As many of you know, Mark Clements has been reincarcerated on a parole violation and is in prison in Illinois.
Yesterday Mark arrived at a plea agreement with the prosecutors and he was sentenced to 90 days, 30 of which he has already served.

The next step is that Mark is going before the prison review board on March 7th.  Mark’s lawyer said they will likely decide that he will be freed after serving the 60 days, so we expect Mark to be freed around May 7th.

We amassed nearly 40 letters of support for Mark from people all across the country.  Many, many beautiful letters speaking to Mark’s character and the impact he has made on the criminal justice front.  I want to thank all of you who wrote.  I passed off all of the letters to Mark’s lawyer and he is going to begin faxing them to the parole board members — and he said they do read each letter, especially when they get it before the parole date hearing.  So thanks again. And it is not too late to write a letter — send it to marlene@nodeathpenalty.org and I will send it to Mark’s lawyer and make a copy for Mark as well.

Mark waved to us from his cuffed hands and blew us kisses.  He looked a bit thinner than we remember.  His lawyer said he is under a lot of stress because his confinement is so restrictive.  He is locked up with his cellmate for 23 hours a day, no TV, no radio, no phone calls and right now he cannot send mail out — so it has been very difficult for him.  All parole violators are held in these conditions which is an injustice in itself. Mark details the horrible conditions in a letter below.

Mark is getting everyone’s letters and as soon as he can, he will begin writing you all back. We expect that after March 7th, he will be in a different part of the prison and his confinement will not be so restrictive and he will be allowed visitors and phone calls at that time.
Mark sends his love to all of you. He is grateful that you have all stood behind him. Below is a letter from him that describes in detail some of the conditions he is facing (which is the reason he and so many others are forced to choose plea deals over months and months in these horrible conditions). Although he is behind bars, Mark’s fighting spirit still shines through!
Marlene Martin and Randi Jones Hensley
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Mark asked us to pass this message to you:
“I have been at Stateville Correctional Center “NRC” Receiving Unit for less than five weeks. I am here for a misdemeanor charge involving an argument with my wife. I served 28 years inside Illinois prisons for a crime I did not commit. I am one of hundreds that were beat and tortured under the command of Jon Burge and served decades inside a decaying prison. I was 16 years old and framed for a crime I did not commit. I was released in August, 2009. Almost immediately after my release I was hired by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty as Administrator and Organizer. I knew this would be a risky job for someone still on parole! But my dying mother, Virginia Clements, told me she loved being a member of the CEDP and she wanted to me to fight hard to achieve the following: 1) Jon Burge imprisonment for lying and covering up tortures he commanded 2) End the death penalty in Illinois because it was only applied toward the week, disadvantaged, and is a racist tool used to silence the cry of Innocent people 3) To end juvenile life sentences. With your help, we did win two of her wishes! WOW!!! She was so happy when I told her Burge was guilty on all counts. She jumped for joy despite her cancer! And I knew that myself and the whole CEDP family had won a big victory.
My mother often spoke of Troy Davis and like so many felt Troy would walk off Georgia’s death row and lead a movement to expose racism on every level. Side by side with Randi Jones Hensley, Marlene Martin, Brit Schulte, Darby Tillis, Ken Richardson, and Tomika and others there in spirit–we went to Georgia prepared to fight! I felt good. I gave my all and more for Troy. I proudly stepped off the plane to media cameras and let them know that the Campaign was there to do nothing less than save the life of Troy and that we would be noisy. As an ex-prisoner, when Troy died a certain part of me died. Believe it or not, when I think of Troy I still cry because I know an innocent man died.
The conditions I am facing here at Stateville show just how rotten the prison system is. Here are ten problems I have with NRC Stateville:
1. Commissary is allowed only once a month, at which time everything that will be needed by an inmate has to be purchased and if the commissary has no soap, deodorant, or writing supplies, the inmate has to do without.
2. There is not televisions or radios allowed.
3. Prisoners are inside their cells 24 hours a day other than for one day where inmates are permitted two and a half hours in the yard.
4. The food portions are reduced compared to what other prisoners receive.
5. There is only one shower allowed per week.
6. The telephones require a PIN which can only be obtained from the counselor.
7. It is next to impossible to see a counselor.
8. The counselor does not make rounds on the galleries as is required by IDOC guidelines.
9. The counselor does not respond to requests made by inmates for a PIN number to access the phones.
10. Prisoners like me, who have court hearings, are not allowed to phone their lawyers nor issued materials to communicate with their lawyers for weeks.
These conditions at Stateville must change now. Contact Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and demand changes now! All inmates deserve to be treated with respect.”
If any of you would like to communicate with Mark you can do so at:
Mark Clements #N-23123
Stateville Correctional Center
PO Box 112
Joliet, IL 60434