Supreme Court Sees 2 Similar Death Penalty Questions Very Differently
NPR by Nina Totenberg
March 30, 2019
Two Supreme Court decisions just hours before a scheduled execution. Two decisions just seven weeks apart. Two decisions on the same issue. Except that in one, a Muslim was put to death without his imam allowed with him in the execution chamber, and in the other, a Buddhist's execution was temporarily halted because his Buddhist minister was denied the same right.
The two apparently conflicting decisions are so puzzling that even the lawyers are scratching their heads and offering explanations that they candidly admit are only speculative.
On Feb. 7, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, ruled that Alabama could go ahead with its execution of Domineque Hakim Ray, a Muslim man convicted of murder. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had temporarily blocked the execution because the state barred the condemned man from having a Muslim imam at his side in the death chamber. Alabama said only the prison's Christian minister would be allowed in.
I'm 13 and I Write Holiday Cards to People in Prison
New York Times by Sofia Robinson (8th grader)
LOS ANGELES — When I was 5, my mom asked me if I wanted to help her write holiday cards to people in prison who had been raped behind bars. She didn’t say it like that, of course, because I didn’t know what prison or rape was.
Instead, she told me that there were thousands of ladies and gentlemen who were spending Christmas alone, unable to leave their rooms as they pleased, and that other people had been really mean to them.
I can’t remember which I thought was worse — to be forced to stay in my room or to be mistreated. But either way, I agreed to help my mom.
I am 13 now, and I still write holiday cards to people in prison. It’s really fun to think of nice things to say to people you’ve never met. I always try to imagine what I would want to hear if I was forced to be away from my family and was being treated poorly. I would be terrified, sad and worried that nobody remembered that I existed.
Atheists Inmates In Their Own Words
Patheos by Godless Mom
May 9 - An Update from Pablo, Atheist on Death Row
May 1 - A New Inmate From Oregon
April 25 - Doing Time in Oregon As An Atheist pt 5
April 19 - Doing Time in Oregon As An Atheist pt 4
April 10 - - Doing Time in Oregon As An Atheist pt 3
April 3 - Doing Time in Oregon As An Atheist pt 2
March 26 - Doing Time in Oregon As An Atheist
March 14 - Innocent on Death Row? pt 2
March 13 - Innocent on Death Row
Each of these articles starts with some contextual information:
This is a series on what it’s like to be an atheist in prison. To read other parts in the series, click here. ... This series, for the most part, will not be about their crimes. I’m interested in painting a picture of what life is like for nonbelievers in the joint. ...
With that said, I’ve sent each inmate some preliminary questions to get the conversation going. If you find you have questions that arise as you read their responses, please post them in the comments below or email them to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure the person gets them.
“These are not tears of sadness; these are tears of peace.” “I came in here broken; now I am whole.”
These are things shared with us by some of the incarcerated women at Logan Correctional Center, in our first session of Telling Our Stories, Transforming Our Lives, the 12-session covenant group led by UUPMI. We finally, after a negotiation with the prison administration that was strung out over a couple of years, held our first session on January 6, 2018. A historic occasion! There were three of us there leading the session – Cindy Cotton, a volunteer from the UU congregation in Bloomington/Normal; the Rev. Karen Mooney, our UUPMI minister and executive director; and the Rev. Marcia Curtis (that would be me!), the president of the UUPMI board. For the next six months, at least two of us will be going into Logan every other week to lead sessions that we hope will continue to be transformational, not just for the incarcerated women, but for us as well, as we learn to see the world through their eyes.
We found, in our first session at Logan, that leading a covenant group session there is very different from leading a covenant group session at Cook County Jail. At Cook County Jail, there is a lot more chaos. There’s a lot of turnover among the incarcerated women, with the average stay being only about a month, and there’s a lot of turnover in the staff, with a whole new set of Correctional Officers (COs) every 90 days. When you’re in jail, you’re in a transitional space, physically and emotionally – waiting to be tried (because you couldn’t cover bail), or serving a short sentence (something less than a year). We’ve found that some women are there for longer periods of time, as much as a few years, while awaiting trial. But for the most part, the women who come to the covenant group sessions don’t know what’s going to happen to them next – when (or if) they’ll get out, whether they’ll be able to stay clean and sober (so far, the women we’ve worked with there are all in an addiction treatment program), whether their partner will wait for them, whether their children will be hurt by the separation. We’re delighted that we already have enough people signed up for our Circle Facilitator Volunteer Training, on either 2/10/18 or 2/24/18, that we think we’ll be able to go to offering the covenant group every week instead of every two weeks, giving women something to hang onto and to look forward to, something consistent where they know they will be treated with dignity and respect, and where their humanity will be recognized and honored. It matters!
Atheists file discrimination complaint against Wyoming Department of Corrections
December 20, 2017 - Hemant Hehta
While people of faith are allowed to gather, study, and discuss their views, the atheists aren’t given the same opportunity (despite requesting it). That’s because the Department doesn’t even recognize “Humanism” as a valid “Faith Group.”
Article: Court Says Atheist Inmate’s Religious Rights Were Not Burdened By Missouri Prison System - 2016 KCUR by Margolies
Does a prison’s failure to regard atheism as a “religious preference” violate the Constitution?
That’s the question raised by a former Missouri prisoner, who contended the failure of the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) to list “atheist” on prison intake forms violated his First Amendment rights.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive