“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

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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!

Video: Rodney Reed reflects on his stay of execution

March 5, 2015: The state of Texas intended to kill Rodney Reed today, but his family, his lawyers, a vibrant defense campaign, and Rodney himself fought hard to make sure that didn’t happen. We still have a big fight ahead of us, but today we celebrate our victory.

Yesterday, TWC News reporter Alex Stockwell interviewed Rodney in the visitation room of the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas. Click here for a video of Rodney talking about the stay and how he’s dealt with coming so close to being executed.

“I really don’t try to entertain death because once you get consumed with something like that, it takes away from you. I just don’t try to entertain anything like that,” Reed said. “For the time being everyone has a date, and I’ve been here almost, right at 18 years. I’m kind of numb to how to ride this roller coaster.”

As Alex reminds us, March 5 was not Rodney’s first scheduled execution and it may not be his last.

Reed says he’s hopeful that there will be a DNA evidence hearing, and that this time around, that evidence will work out in his favor.

“Because of the way the system is structured, you have to prove the alternative suspect,” Reed said. “I’m very optimistic that if the courts are willing to acknowledge this evidence that we have, because this evidence is not made up. If they’re willing to acknowledge it, I feel like they will give me the better judgment on this.”

Rodney remains hopeful and we do too! We’ll keep fighting until he’s free.

(Alex also reported on our Valentine’s Day action for Rodney. You can watch that video here.)

Death Penalty Opponents host “Day of Innocence” at the Texas State Capitol featuring Death Row Exonerees

On Tuesday, March 3, a group of death row exonerees called on Texas lawmakers to abolish the death penalty. Witness to Innocence members Ron Keine and Sabrina Butler were joined by Texas State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), family members and friends of death row prisoners, and Mark Clements, board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and one of Rodney Reed’s fiercest advocates.

The group lobbied Texas lawmakers to approve legislation that would abolish the death penalty and prohibit the “law of parties” from being used in capital cases. This controversial law, unique to Texas in its application, allows people convicted of aiding or abetting in a murder committed by another person to be sentenced to death.

Sabrina Butler is the first and only woman to be exonerated from death row. Convicted when she was just 17 years old, she served over six years in prison in Mississippi before being cleared of all wrong doing.

Reports Austin’s KVUE:

Despite being the only woman in the U.S. exonerated after being sentenced to death, Butler’s life will never be the same. She has trouble finding employment, because she must still admit her conviction on job applications.

“That’s the part that makes me feel still like I’m in prison, because this will affect my life, not only my life, my children’s life,” Butler said.

Ron Keine spent two years on death row in New Mexico before being exonerated after a police officer admitted that he had actually committed the murder. “[The cop] went to the nearest church and confessed,” Keine said. “That’s what got me out. It wasn’t any maneuvering by lawyers.”

Texas State Rep. Harold shakes hands with Mark Clements at a press conference to show his support for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. Mark Clements spent 28 years in prison serving a juvenile life without parole sentence before he was finally cleared as Sabrina Butler looks on. Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network is at the podium.  Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman

Texas State Rep. Harold shakes hands with Mark Clements at a press conference to show his support for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. Sabrina Butler looks on. Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network is at the podium. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

Ron Keine, assistant director with Witness to Innocence, speaks in support of abolishing the death penalty at a press conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman

Ron Keine, assistant director with Witness to Innocence, speaks in support of abolishing the death penalty at a press conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

Rep. Harold Dutton told the Dallas Morning News, “I don’t want the state executing people in my name. You can go all the way through the system and be factually innocent and end up on death row, which is evidence by some of the people here. How many people has Texas executed who might have been innocent?” The Dallas Morning News, whose editorial position has been firmly anti-death penalty since 2007, created this revealing graphic  that, in their words, “gives a lot to chew on”. Texas has executed 521 men and women since capital punishment was reinstated in 1973.

People with the Witness to Innocence speak in support of abolishing the death penalty including Mark Clements, right, who spent 28 years in prison serving a juvenile life without parole sentence before he was finally cleared, and Sabrina Butler, the only woman  exonerated from death row, at left.  Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman

Mark Clements speaks in support of abolishing the death penalty. At left is Sabrina Butler, the only woman exonerated from death row. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

The Austin American Statesman posted a  short video clip of Mark Clements, who was freed based on police misconduct after serving 28 years in prison. Mark attended the lobby day on behalf of Rodney Reed’s family. “Don’t reject these men and women [lobbying their representatives]. Give them their chance. Free Rodney Reed”. A photo gallery is available here.

At the day’s news conference, Terri Been tearfully pleaded for her brother, Jeff Wood, to be removed from death row. Wood was convicted under the state’s law of parties for a killing committed by his partner in a 1996 robbery in Kerrville. In 2008, Wood, who was found not mentally fit to stand trial, won a stay from a federal judge just hours before his scheduled execution. He remains on death row.

Rodney Reed’s supporters can email Rep. Dutton and thank him for his continued commitment to justice and ending the death penalty in Texas. Dutton has filed bills opposing the death penalty every legislative session since 2003. None has made it out of committee, but Dutton said he refuses to give up. “I think Texas ought not be in the death penalty business until we get the systems fixed … until we can guarantee that no one who is executed is innocent,” Dutton said. “We’ll keep pushing it”

(Many thanks to the Texas Moratorium Network for their continued work around Lobby Day)

Organized by the Texas Moratorium Network, the "Day of Innocence" brought together exonerated death row prisoners, Rep. Harold Dutton, and friends and family members of men and women on Texas death row.

Organized by the Texas Moratorium Network, the “Day of Innocence” brought together exonerated death row prisoners, Rep. Harold Dutton, and friends and family members of men and women on Texas death row. Photo by Scott Cobb.

Mark Clements, Sabrina Butler, and Ron Keine stand in the House Chamber inside the Texas Capitol  Photo by Scott Cobb

Mark Clements, Sabrina Butler, and Ron Keine stand in the House Chamber inside the Texas Capitol.
Photo by Scott CobbSabrina Butler, who is the only woman to be exonerated from death row, holds a copy of her life story after she spoke along with people with the Witness to Innocence in support of abolishing the death penalty at a Capitol press conference Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman Sabrina Butler holds a copy of her life story after she spoke along with people with the Witness to Innocence in support of abolishing the death penalty at a Capitol press conference Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.