KiNassor/Foster Gets Commutation – And the Struggle Continues
By Walidah Imarisha
It is 6:05 p.m. on Aug. 30. Right now Haramia KiNassor/Kenneth Foster Jr., death row organizer and poet, was supposed to be strapped down to a gurney waiting for a shot of poison injected into his veins. Thanks to world wide outrage, attention and action, he no longer has the threat of death of hanging over his head.
Today at noon, Texas Governor Rick Perry commuted KiNassor’s death sentence to life in prison, after a 6-1 recommendation for clemency by the Perry-appointed Board of Pardons and Paroles The Board has only voted to stop an execution once before since the reinstitution of the death penalty in Texas in 1982.
Supporters attribute this almost unprecedented decision to the national and international support he has gotten. Last minute media this morning including The New York Times, The LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and several news stations only join with Court TV, BET News, NBC, ABC and hundreds of others, not only here but in Venezuela, Dubai, Italy, France, England and elsewhere.
"After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment," Perry said in his written statement about the decision.
But Perry’s statement extended beyond KiNassor’s case: "I am concerned about Texas law that allows capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously and it is an issue I think the Legislature should examine."
KiNassor agreed that this issue extends beyond his case, and has insisted that from the beginning. Today, before the decision came down, he said in an interview, “Regardless of what happens today, you all have to keep up the struggle. I know this is bigger than one day. The Law of Parties is still on the books and this is going to continue to ruin lives until we stop it.”
KiNassor’s attorney Keith Hampton estimates there are at least a dozen prisoners on Texas’ death row who was convicted under the Law of Parties. KiNassor feels that’s a good place to begin work, but not to end.
KiNassor encouraged his supporters to work to free Rudy Medrano who is on death row for the Law of Parties. KiNassor says that Medrano was sentenced to die for loaning someone a gun that was used in a murder without his knowledge when he was at a different location.
He also encourages organizing against the death penalty. Five more lethal injections are scheduled for next month, the first one next week. This is just a break in a chain, and we must ensure that this chain stays broken.
In addition, supporters plan to continue supporting The DRIVE Movement, the death row organization KiNassor helped to found that is working to end the inhumanity of the death penalty.
And of course there is still the fight to get KiNassor free. “Life is better than a death sentence, but it still isn’t good enough and we will ride to the end,” says Adam Axel, a support coordinator.
KiNassor agreed, saying, “The struggle continues and I know we will win, with the people we have involved.”
But tonight, his supporters are tasting the sweetness of their victory, as KiNassor must be as well in his cell knowing so much love is with him, without the threat of death over him, knowing that he will finally be able to touch his 11-year-old daughter, that he hasn’t touched since she was three months old, knowing that he can have extended visits with his family without glass separating them or special schedules. And the thing with victory is once you get a taste, it makes you that much more dedicated to have more.
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Sep 23, 2008 - 10:46AM
Re: KiNassor Wins Commutation!
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