Ball in the CCA’s Court: the struggle continues for Rodney Reed

A new piece from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty outlines the current status of the case of Rodney Reed and describes all the hard work by activists, lawyers, filmmakers, investigators and journalists that lead the recent stay of execution and the uncovering of new evidence.

Lily Hughes, national director of the CEDP, clarifies where Rodney’s case is in the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA):

Although Rodney has been given a stay of execution, the fight is far from over. The Court has agreed to look at Rodney’s new appeal, but there are no guarantees of a favorable ruling. One possibility is that the court could look at the evidence and opt to deny relief, as they have done in the past.

Another possibility is that the CCA could order a new trial. This wouldn’t be unwelcome to Rodney and his supporters. However, if the evidence of innocence is strong enough to warrant a new trial, then it would make better sense for the court to reverse the conviction altogether.

The best possible outcome from the CCA would be a reversal of Rodney’s conviction and for Rodney to be released from prison. In this event, the Bastrop County district attorney could still opt to take Rodney to trial again, in which case activists should demand that the DA drop Rodney’s indictment completely.

The article is a great comprehensive of the history of the campaign to demand justice for Rodney, a campaign that continues!

The various options before the Court make the ongoing activist campaign for Rodney paramount. Rodney’s family and supporters are prepared to carry on the fight. As Rodney’s brother Rodrick Reed said at a rally in February, “If we don’t stand up today, we’re going to lay down tomorrow for anything they’re going to make us lay down for. And I ain’t a laying down kind of guy. I’m a fighter, I come from a family of fighters!”

This site will be updated as soon as the Court issues a ruling.

A rally for justice outside the Texas State Capitol in February 2015

A rally for justice outside the Texas State Capitol in February 2015

Sandra and Rodrick Reed address a crowd outside the Texas Governors Mansion in February, 2015. Photo by Jaynna Sims

Sandra and Rodrick Reed address a crowd outside the Texas Governors Mansion in February, 2015. Photo by Jaynna Sims

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Texas votes to keep execution drug manufacturers a (dirty) secret

The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Senate has approved a bill that would hide the names of execution drug providers from the public. Senate Bill 1697 passed 23-8.

State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, told lawmakers her legislation was a “practical solution” to the harassment and threats faced by companies providing the state prison system with pentobarbital, the single drug used in Texas to execute inmates convicted of capital murder.

“Discussion in the public area has led to a chilling effect for companies who want to supply this compound to the state of Texas,” she said. “There are very few doses left of the drug that’s currently being administered.”

Hiding the names of unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies is a new development in Texas’ embarrassing history of capital punishment. Because these businesses have contracts with the state, their names were available to public until just two years ago. After European-based companies refused to sell their supplies of pentobarbital if its intended purpose was the murder of human beings, Texas turned to The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy for its lethal drugs in 2013. The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy claims that the public knowledge of their shady deal lead to “threats” against their business.

If companies can’t conduct their tax-funded business with the state in the public view, then they shouldn’t be in this shameful business at all. It’s telling that state lawmakers can band together to protect pharma manufacturers from the “chilling effect” of public outcry, but do nothing to secure justice for the wrongfully incarcerated. The Texas Legislature has again reaffirmed its commitment to executions, but abolitionists in Texas and across the world won’t stop until there’s justice for Rodney Reed and the other men and women on death row.

“My brother is still locked up, and the fight must continue until we bring him home…after that, we still must fight for justice.”

Rodrick Reed, brother of Rodney, spoke to a University of Texas at Austin students last night.

“A lot of people have relaxed, thinking he’s on his way home, but we still have to fight,” Rodrick said. “My brother is still locked up, and the fight must continue until we bring him home, and even after that, we still must fight for justice.”

“Without the public, my brother wouldn’t have stood a chance,” Rodrick said. “They would have probably executed him on March 5. [Rodney said to me,] ‘I’ve lost both my grandmothers in [jail.] Now I’ve lost my dad, and I’ve lost several uncles, and my family is going away, but I have not lost hope.’”

Rodrick was joined by Ben Wolff of the Texas Defender Service and Ana Hernandez of the UT chapter of Amnesty International. “Here’s the urgency about this: No one’s won,” Wolff said. “Rodney’s still on death row, and he’s still there unjustly and an innocent man. The first time the state of Texas seeks to execute someone, they have to give at least 90 days’ notice. The second time, … 30 days.”

Hernandez added “I think that stressing the indignity of his current situation and the fact that it is unjust for an innocent person to face those circumstances for over 18 years — I think that finding a way to convey that kind of urgency is important. There is no end date for your activism.”

Panel discussion April 27, 2015

The panel followed a die-in hosted a few days earlier in one of the University’s busy pedestrian areas. The die-in highlighted Rodney’s case but also the oppressive conditions of Texas death row. A 6 foot by 10 foot area was marked off on the ground, representing the size of a death row cell. Demonstrators lay down on the pavement for 10 minutes with signs about Rodney and the racist application of the death penalty.

UT die-in

UT die-in

Die-in at University of Texas brings attention to Rodney Reed and the horror of solitary confinement on TX death row

Students at the University of Texas at Austin will hold a die-in on Thursday, April 23, to show their continued support of death row prisoner Rodney Reed. The students will table in the hour leading up to the die-in, which starts at 12:15 pm. The event will include a replica of the floor plan of cells on Texas death row to highlight the harsh conditions of death row, as profiled in this report by the ACLU. Texas has some of the most restrictive policies in the nation, with prisoners held in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, in tiny cells with one small window, no television, no air conditioning, and no contact visits. No prisoners should live in this way, especially not an innocent man like Rodney. Although grateful for his stay of execution, activists say Rodney shouldn’t spend one more day in his 6′ x 10′ cage.  More information about the students’ die-in is available on Facebook.

You can see inside the Polunsky Unit, home to Texas death row, courtesy of this blog post at Minutes Before Six. The pictures were obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request and annotated by a Texas death row prisoner.

A panel discussion on Rodney, featuring Rodney’s brother Rodrick Reed and UT Amnesty International Vice President Ana Hernandez, will take place at UT on Monday, April 27 at 7:00 pm. Details are available here.

The Campus Coordinating Committee to Free Rodney Reed has hosted many actions on UT campus over the past several months, including a flash mob, collecting Valentines for prisoners, and an all-night vigil. Email cpoirot@utexas.edu for more info.

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, supporters kneel inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, supporters kneel inside a 6′ x 10′ area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, a supporter kneels inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

A group of supporters gather outside the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Texas Capitol Complex to demand justice for Rodney

A group of supporters gather outside the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Texas Capitol Complex to demand justice for Rodney, March 28, 2015

Today we mourn the passing of Rodney’s father, Walter Reed

It is with great sadness that we learned Rodney’s father, Walter Reed, passed away last night. He had been suffering from a heart ailment for some time, with his condition worsening over the last few months; his wife Sandra had been his full time caregiver. This was all happening while Rodney was fighting for his life, so it has been a very difficult time for the Reed family.
Says Lily Hughes, director of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, “Many of us have know Walter for years – although he didn’t often take the microphone, he was a passionate advocate for Rodney. Even when he couldn’t walk – or march – in a demonstration, he would ride on his motorized wheelchair, which he often decorated with signs. He has been a loving father to his six sons and a great support to Sandra during their long marriage.”

We are all so sad that Walter wasn’t able to live to see Rodney freed, but we’ll all keep fighting. Rest in Peace, Walter Reed.

Walter Reed, Rodney's father, with a young supporter outside the Texas State Capitol Building

Walter Reed, Rodney’s father, with a young supporter outside the Texas State Capitol Building

Condolence cards can be sent by email via JPay. or mailed to Rodney at:

Rodney Reed #999271
Polunsky Unit Death Row
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351

Messages for Sandra and the rest of the Reed family can be sent care of
Campaign to End the Death Penalty National Office
PO Box 25730
Chicago, IL 60625

Review of Rodney Reed case begins; protest of Court scheduled for Mar.28

Details are few, but Fox reports that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) will begin its review of Rodney’s case. A ruling as to whether the court will accept the affidavits filed on February 12 by Rodney’s defense is expected sometime in April. Rodney’s supporters will remind the CCA that the world is still watching this case with a protest on Saturday, March 28. Protesters will gather outside the CCA building in Austin at 1:00 PM to demand freedom for Rodney Reed.

Rodney Reed was granted a stay by the CCA just ten days before his scheduled execution of March 5th, in a 6-3 vote. This temporary reprieve is a victory for Rodney’s family and the hundreds of thousands of people who believe Rodney’s case is a gross miscarriage of justice. However, Rodney remains on death row, spending 23 hours each day in a 6ft x 10ft cell. Conditions on Texas death row are among the harshest in the United States, with prisoners kept in near solitary confinement. This has been Rodney’s reality for almost 18 years. The CCA has the power to allow DNA testing in Rodney’s case and we must demand they do this, and do it quickly.

Protests for Rodney Reed in Paris and Frankfurt

Last week, supporters of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed held demonstrations in Paris, France, and Frankfurt, Germany. Protesters called for justice for Rodney and an end to all executions.

Supporters in Paris gathered on March 4th at the Place de la Concorde near the US Embassy:

Supporters in Paris demand justice for Rodney and an end to all executions

Supporters in Paris demand justice for Rodney and an end to all executions

Supporters in Paris

Supporters in Paris say: Justice for Rodney Reed. New trial and DNA tests. Free Rodney! 

Supporter in Paris

Supporter in Paris

Justice for Mumia Abu Jamal and Rodney Reed

Justice for Mumia Abu Jamal and Rodney Reed

Supporters in Frankfurt held a silent vigil on March 5th:

Silent vigil in Frankfurt am Main demanding justice for Rodney Reed, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Leonard Peltier Photo by Free Mumia Coalition, Frankfurt

Silent vigil in Frankfurt am Main demanding justice for Rodney Reed, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Leonard Peltier
Photo by Free Mumia Coalition, Frankfurt

Supporters in Frankfurt. Photo by Free Mumia Coalition, Frankfurt

Supporters in Frankfurt.
Photo by Free Mumia Coalition, Frankfurt

Protesters in Frankfurt am Main demand justice for Rodney Reed, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Leonard Peltier Photo by Free Mumia Coalition, Frankfurt

Protesters in Frankfurt am Main demand justice for Rodney Reed, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Leonard Peltier
Photo by Free Mumia Coalition, Frankfurt

These displays of international solidarity followed a March 1st demonstration in Berlin that drew 80 people.

Thanks to Free Mumia France, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP), Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT), Lutte pour la Justice (LPJ), Communauté de Sant’Egidio. SAVE Innocents, Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM), Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), Free Mumia Coalition Frankfurt, Gabs, and Annabelle Gabriel!