ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

April 30, 2007

2007.04.30: Serious Threat of Return of NY Death Penalty

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 10:02 am

From: Rebecca L Kurti
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 10:02 AM
To: 1199 Members
Subject: Serious Threat of Return of NY Death Penalty

IN the past few days, in the aftermath of a state trooper’s death, both State Senate and Assembly members have INTRODUCED BILLS to reinstate NY’s death penalty. PLEASE take action — read below from NYers Against the Death Penalty. Help stop NY politicians bringing back this racist institution.



Just as the Senate is poised to vote on the death penalty in New York,

the worst case scenario has unfolded for those of us who are committed

to ending capital punishment.

Please call your elected State representatives today, and maximize our

impact by  getting just ONE or TWO others to do the same!!!


In the aftermath of the murder of another state trooper,  David

C. Brinkerhoff, Albany pols are calling for a return of the death

penalty, even though the death penalty has never been shown to deter

homicide, and EVEN THOUGH they have done NOTHING to address the issue of

wrongful convictions!!!

Once again, it appears some members of the State Senate as well as in

the State Assembly are misusing a tragic event for their own political


These “public servants” are acting in willful ignorance of what New

Yorkers have learned at comprehensive hearings in the State Assembly

two years ago. They have IGNORED the risk of executing an innocent person,

have IGNORED the growing list of people on death rows released with

evidence of innocence, nationwide, and the shameful list of New Yorkers wrongfully

convicted (embarrassingly, among the highest in the nation.) These

politicians are  the majority of New Yorkers who now prefer life without

parole over the death penalty as the most serious punishment (by a margin

of over 20%.)

Here’s how to help remind them of their responsibility to US:

If you can do ONE thing, contact your state Assembly member. Even if

you have in the past, do so again: they may change their votes!

If you can do TWO things, contact your State Senator

If you can do THREE things, contact Governor Spitzer at the number


To identify and find out how to reach your State legislators, please

visit http://www.capwiz. com/lwvny/ state/main/ ?state=NY scroll down

to My Elected Officials and click on View.

A phone call is BEST, a letter is fine. (Email is the least effective

approach) It is important to identify yourself as a constituent.

If your legislators are already with us,

thank and encourage them.

Please let me know what actions you’re taking so we may know the

magnitude of our impact. Thank you for all you do!!!!

In solidarity and strength!


ATALANTA26pt2@YAHOO.COM/ 516 849 2363

For Governor Spitzer,

State Capitol

Albany, NY 12224

Phone: (518) 474-8390

Fax: (518) 474-1513

Last of all, please pass this request along to friends, colleagues,

families and listserves that pay attention to human rights issues.


Death penalty support grows

Legislators embrace measures calling for execution of cop killers

By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau

Albany Times Union: Friday, April 27, 2007

http://timesunion. com/AspStories/ story.asp? storyID=584483& category= CAPIT

OL&BCCode=HOME& newsdate= 4/27/2007

ALBANY — A veteran Assembly Democrat has introduced a bill to restore

the death penalty for cop killers, putting the controversial issue

squarely back on the table in New York. Rome Assemblywoman RoAnn

Destito’s move means the death penalty now has a majority sponsor in

both chambers. Her legislation matches that of Sen. Marty Golden,

R-Brooklyn, and allows for capital punishment for those who murder law

enforcement and correction officers.

Destito, a Democrat, said she planned the bill, which she proposed

Wednesday, even before three troopers were shot, one fatally, this week.

Two police officers in Oneida County were killed in the line of duty

during the past year, she noted.

“After going to two memorials and funerals … in my community, I can

tell you there is strong support for this kind of legislation, ” said

Destito. “People that never really get excited about legislation were

coming up to me and saying we need to do something for our men and women

in law enforcement. ”

Already, nine other Democrats are behind the bill and at least five

others, who supported an Assembly Republican pitch for the death penalty

earlier this week, are likely to join.

David Kaczynski, executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death

Penalty, said lawmakers must fight the urge to pass legislation as a

show of outrage. “In the case with police officers, you’ve got an

understandably inflamed public reaction and that is exactly the kind of

case that leads to a wrongful conviction,” he said.

Kaczynski, of Schenectady, said the legislation to execute cop

killers will amount to “an empty political gesture.” There hasn’t been

an execution in New York in 43 years, yet the state spent $200 million

on the death penalty system from 1995 to 2004.

And, he said, it risks executing the innocent. “It’s a simplistic

solution. Life without parole is a much, much better option,” said

Kaczynski. He noted the state exonerated eight men convicted of murder

in New York in the last two years, seven through DNA and another because

of a solid alibi.

Capital Region lawmakers are split on the death penalty. Republicans

support it. Most Democrats opposite it, except Assembly Majority Leader

Ronald Canestrari of Cohoes, who said he would vote for Destito’s bill.

He said he voted for the penalty in the past and would again after the

“recent horrendous events.”

Assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said people are reacting in the

heat of the moment.

“I certainly understand the emotion and I understand the revenge,” Tonko

said. But he called for policies that attack the causes of violence and

laws that crack down on the spread of illegal guns.

Phil Oliva, a spokesman for Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco,

said Tedisco talked with Gov. Eliot Spitzer Wednesday night, and the

governor reiterated his support of a death penalty bill.

Spitzer has said he will refrain from entering the debate until next

week, out of respect for the families of the troopers fired upon in

Delaware County this week.

Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, is willing to co-sponsor

Destito’s bill. “I don’t support the death penalty, but it’s a special

circumstance when people are shooting at police officers,” said Gordon,

adding that his position has been influenced by the murder of Albany

Police Lt. John Finn, who was shot and killed in 2003 by a parolee in


“He knew he was shooting at a cop,” Gordon said. “When they’re

knowingly shooting at police officers, it’s just too much.”


Death penalty bill urged

Senate renews call for law after cop shootings, asks Spitzer to get Assembly

on board


Albany Times Union By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau

April 26, 2007

ALBANY — Citing the shootings of three state troopers within 24 hours in

Delaware County, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno urged Gov. Eliot

Spitzer on Wednesday to focus on a new state death penalty law instead of

pushing for campaign finance reform. Spitzer spokesman Darren Dopp said he

expects the governor will sit down with legislative leaders next week to

discuss a death penalty law. Spitzer, a Democrat, has favored a death

penalty since his two terms as attorney general, particularly for cop


The governor cut short his schedule Tuesday to return to Albany to

visit the family of the latest wounded trooper. His first stop on Wednesday,

in Nassau County to slam Senate Republicans for rejecting his plans to

reform election financing, occurred a few minutes after two troopers were

shot in Delaware County. He canceled a speech to NARAL in New York City and

a fundraiser today in Florida. “I know here at the Capitol there is an

ongoing debate over legislative initiatives and politics,” Spitzer said.

“Now is not the moment for that debate. There will be much time for that


By late morning, Bruno was criticizing Spitzer’s priorities, saying

the governor should focus on protecting New Yorkers in general and cops in

particular. “What is more important than protecting the lives of law

enforcement officers?” Bruno said. “Is campaign finance reform more

important than that? I don’t think so.” Bruno hastily called a news

conference with his members and the New York State Sheriff’s Association to

urge Spitzer to “use his considerable influence” to get Assembly Democrats

to create a death penalty law for criminals who murder cops. The Senate

plans Monday to pass a bill calling for a death sentence for cop killers and

terrorists. Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, plans to introduce a

similar measure.

While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan,

declined to comment on the death penalty, he issued a statement offering

condolences to the slain trooper’s family and cast the debate as a gun

control issue. He touted a series of gun laws that passed his chamber. They

target incompetent or sloppy gun dealers, improve use of ballistics in

solving crimes and ban .50 caliber bullets and armor-piercing ammunition.

Privately, he told Assembly Democrats they will not take immediate action on

a death penalty proposal, on which his members appears split.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who led five hearings on the death penalty in 2005, said he

once favored the death penalty law achieved by Gov. George Pataki in 1995,

but now sees strong opposition to it since New York courts struck it down as

unconstitutional because of technical flaws. Lentol said life without parole

for cop killers is enough. “That’s a sufficient deterrent, and without

the risk of executing someone who’s innocent,” Lentol said.

Bruno, noting that 10 law enforcement officers have been killed in the past 30 months, said,

“Life imprisonment doesn’t work.” Assembly Republicans on Tuesday

tried to amend a crime victims bill to add the death penalty. The amendment failed

96-47, with seven Assembly Democrats joining the minority. Assembly Majority

Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, accused the Senate of grandstanding.

Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, said the three shootings in his district require

action by lawmakers to send a message to “evil cowards” who gun down

officers. “If you attack a police officer, it’s bigger than that police

officer. It’s us, it’s all of us,” Bonacic said. A broader bill allowing

the death penalty for all killers may be introduced later, Bruno said. It would

fix sentencing provisions that the Court of Appeals in 2004 ruled

unconstitutional because they could coerce jurors into voting for the death

penalty out of fear killers might otherwise go free.

James M. Odato can be reached at 454-5083 or by e-mail at

April 27, 2007

2007.04.27: U.S. jailing immigrant children in prison-setting

Filed under: Civil Rights,Immigrant Rights,Prisoners' Rights,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 9:54 am

From: Lucy Herschel
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 9:54 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: U.S. jailing immigrant children in prison-setting

here’s the kind of threat some of our clients face:  small children treated like prisoners, held in cells without books or toys, and terrorized with the threat of being separated from their families.  (article below).

please go the website ( ) to sign the petition, and spread the word to let people know what’s going.  I think if more people knew about this, they would be horrified.

Article below, but you can also get more info at:

the videos and statement from the children are heartrending.


A Texas jail for immigrant kids

April 27, 2007 | Page 6

(from Socialist Workers – )

CINDY BERINGER reports on the scandalous conditions at a for-profit Texas prison that holds immigrant families.

“HELP US and ask questions,” read the note, secretly passed to a visitor from an immigrant child incarcerated in a Texas prison.

Based on their visits and interviews, the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are calling for the immediate shutdown of the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas.

Local activists have brought national and international attention on this facility, owned by the Corrections Corporation of American (CCA), which imprisons children and their families for profit under the same horrendous conditions as when it was a prison for adults.

Approximately 400 immigrants are incarcerated in Hutto, and at least half of the prisoners are children, according to Texans United for Families. Many of the immigrants–who are limited to countries other than Mexico–have made requests for asylum in the U.S. They await deportation hearings without any charges for months, and sometimes years.

On March 6, the ACLU sued Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on behalf of 10 children in the Taylor jail. The ACLU based its lawsuit on a 1997 settlement protecting immigrant minors that resulted from a class-action suit accusing immigration officials of abusing minors. In its current initiative, the ACLU accuses Hutto of violating every provision of the 1997 settlement, including not giving children the right to wear their own clothes or have privacy.

The artwork of children tells no lies, and the artwork of children imprisoned at Hutto–posted on the ACLU Web site–is heartbreaking. A child sits atop a broken heart; a boy behind crudely drawn bars. The saddest of all–an American flag, with the words “HELP” scrawled between the two red stripes at the top.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ACCORDING TO depositions filed with the ACLU lawsuit, the guards at Hutto threaten unruly children with separation from their mothers. But this is often an echo of the threats that drove these families to the U.S. in the first place, to seek asylum.

Raouitee Pamela Puran came from Guyana after she and her four-year-old daughter Wesleyann Emptage were threatened by the people who kidnapped and murdered her husband.

“Wesleyann has heard the guards threaten that children who act up will be separated from their parents,” Raouitee said in her deposition. “Almost everyone has heard this. Wesleyann is terrified that something like that could happen to her. She is afraid of the guards because she thinks they have the power to take me away from her.”

Sherona Verdieu, a 13-year-old from Haiti whose father was kidnapped and eventually killed when her mother could not pay a ransom, said she worried about crying–that this could be a cause for separating her from her mother.

Elsa Carbajal–a 24-year-old woman from Honduras who survived a brutal rape committed by the son of a police officer who continued to terrorize her afterward–said that her 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter “think that they have done something wrong to be imprisoned in this jail.”

Angelina, Elsa’s daughter, suffered significant weight loss while in Hutto. She told her mother that she was always cold, but according to Elsa, she was yelled at for trying to take a blanket, while the guards wear gloves and heavy clothing.

The cruelty of the guards and prison officials that emerges from reading the lawsuit is hard to fathom.

Families are awakened at 5:30 or 5:45 a.m., and must be through bathing by 6 a.m. They are given 20 minutes to eat. “If we haven’t finished,” Elsa says, “the officials say they aren’t interested–the time to eat has finished.”

If the children haven’t finished, they have to throw away the food. “In some cases,” she says, “they have grabbed the food and thrown it in the trash in front of the children, and they cry because they say they are hungry.”

After the 20-minute meal, the prisoners return to their cells “to do nothing,” Elsa says. “They don’t allow us to sleep, only to sit and wait for the hours, days, months to pass.” The prisoners aren’t allowed to have books sent to them, and a great deal of the day is spent in senseless head counts to make sure no one has escaped.

Nine-year-old Kevin Yourdkhani, the son of Iranian-born parents who have sought asylum in Canada for several years, ended up in Hutto after the plane he and his family were traveling on was forced to make an emergency landing in Puerto Rico, where U.S. officials questioned their passports.

In his deposition, Kevin complained about the ridiculous excuse for an education system at Hutto. “Students” in the class of 25 ranged in age from six to 12 years old. “All we do is color and draw pictures and watch Spanish movies,” Kevin said. Kevin also said that his bed was small and cold, and stuck next to a smelly washroom. His mother had to use the toilet in front of him.

Once, when Kevin’s dad came in to fix the bed, guards told him that if his father was in his room again, both parents would be put in separate jails, and Kevin would be sent to a foster home. “I cried and cried,” he said. “I felt if I will be separated, I can never see my parents again, and I will get stepparents, and they will hurt me or maybe they will kill me.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

SINCE THE ACLU filed its suit March 6, seven of the children named in the action–Wesleyann, Kevin, Angelina and Richard Carbajal, and Aisha, Mohammed and Bahja Ibrahim–have been released from Hutto, along with their families.

Rebecca Bernhardt of the ACLU says that those who won release were able to post bond or retain good lawyers or had enough activism and attention paid to their case that they could prove an embarrassment to CCA.

According to the Austin American Statesman, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks has agreed that the detention of immigrants in Hutto fails to meet federal standards, and that the ACLU lawsuit will probably succeed. He set an expedited trial date for August. But he denied a request for a preliminary injunction ordering release of the families, “saying that federal standards do not provide rights for adult detainees, only minors,” the newspaper reported.

This hints of the possibility of more family separations and the continued suffering for immigrants in detention.

T. Don Hutto was supposed to be a model for an ever-growing number of immigrant detention centers. Although officials of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs enforcement claim that Hutto was designed to stop the practice of separating detained parents from their chidren, it seems more likely that this private prison thought it would be more cost-effective to have parents caring for young children within the jail.

Besides, there is still plenty of separation. Fathers are often sent to a separate facility, and children who are citizens are usually farmed out to relatives, rather than sent to Hutto.

According to Deepa Fernandes of CorpWatch, there are 26,500 undocumented people held by federal authorities in the U.S., and the number will rise to 32,000 by the end of the year.

Immigrant rights activist Jay Johnson-Castro has continued his walks to expose atrocities along the border of Texas and Mexico and in immigrant detention facilities. During a recent five-day march to protest immigrant prisons in the Rio Grande Valley, he learned that Hutto isn’t the only place where children are being detained.

In Los Fresnos, Johnson-Castro visited International Educational Services, which he found to be nothing like a school. Instead, it was a detention center for “young adults” who had been separated from their mothers incarcerated at the nearby Port Isabel Immigrant Detention Center. When the children turn 18, they are sent to a separate adult prison.

Johnson-Castro also visited Raymondville, the home of a $65 million tent city that holds 2,000 immigrants who speak more than 40 different languages in windowless hothouses. They are locked down 23 hours a day.

“We still have the problem that Hutto was supposed to fix,” says Johnson-Castro. “The criminals who run this show can say that’s the game, but we’re sick and tired of you making these rules…The criminals make the rules, and we’re going to put a stop to it.”


April 25, 2007

2007.04.25: Antiwar Bulletin: Sun.–Iraq Vets Street Theater

Filed under: Antiwar,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 8:25 pm

From: Michael Letwin
Date: Friday – May 25, 2007 1:40 PM

(Union Free Speech Notice, Below*)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2007

Jose Vasquez 917-587-3334
Jen Hogg 716-541-8265

Iraq veterans to use street theater to show true reality of war

Operation First Casualty aims to bring the story of the war to the American people

New York, NY – In an effort to illuminate the true reality of the conflict in Iraq, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will engage in a series of street theater actions around the New York City area on Sunday, May 27. This day coincides with our national remembrance of Memorial Day on Monday, May 28, which bears particular significance this year as we are in the midst of the fifth year of a war that has claimed the lives of over 3,300 American service members and over 655,000 Iraqis.

Actual veterans of the conflict in Iraq will play the part of American service members – with reenactments that will highlight various aspects of life in combat in Iraq. The event will be treated like a military operation with participants in full military uniform, however, there will be no weapons used at any time.

“We are calling Sunday’s action Operation First Casualty because we believe that truth was the first casualty of this war. Our aim is to show the American public the truth of the US occupation in Iraq,” said Garett Reppenhagen, IVAW board chair and one of the organizers of a previous March 19th OFC event in Washington, DC. “It is time for the American people to know the truth so they will act to bring the troops home now.”

In actions staged around the city, local activist volunteers will act as civilians in realistic portrayals of actual interactions between U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. The result will be a lot of shouting, commotion and tension on the busy streets of NYC – giving the American public a taste of what Iraqis and U.S. troops deal with day in and day out.

Participants hope that by giving the American public a sense of the ugly reality of the war they will then be inspired to act to end the war now.

Iraq Veterans Against the War was founded in 2004 to give those who have served in the military since September 11, 2001 a way to come together and speak out against an unjust, illegal and unwinnable war. Today, IVAW is made up of over 400 members in 42 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and serving in bases overseas.

IVAW gives its members the opportunity not only to connect with other veterans and active duty soldiers but also to speak with one voice. As members of IVAW, they go to colleges, middle schools, high schools, churches, libraries, and to the media – and give first-hand accounts of what is really happening in Iraq. As eyewitnesses and participants in the war on terror, they are viewed as credible sources that are able to explain why the war must end now.



*Union Free Speech Notice
This message, like thousands of others that have been posted to the ALAA e-list, constitutes protected free speech, pursuant to Collective Bargaining Agreement, §§ 3.5 (“The expression of personal religious, political, social or economic beliefs of each and every attorney is fully guaranteed and will never constitute grounds for discharge or relief from an individual assignment unless, in either instance, it can be demonstrated that such expression has, or will, directly interfere(d) with, and detract from, representation of a Society client so as to render said representation less than at the highest level of competence and effectiveness.”) and 1.5 (“The Union will have reasonable use of the Society’s internal communication mechanisms.”).

April 24, 2007

2007.04.24: ALAA and Police Abuse

Attached are the list of thirty-eight signers of the “Justice for Sean Bell” statement from LAS staff. The statement will be publicly issued in early May (details to follow); to add your name, please reply to this message.

The following background information shows how this statement is entirely consistent with ALAA’s past opposition to racism and police abuse.

*December 27, 1986. Members of Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee of ALAA joined protests in Howard Beach, Queens, demanding indictment of white racists who beat to death Michael Griffith, an African American man.

*July 1987. A statement initiated by the Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee of ALAA initiated a statement that publicly criticized the acquittal of Bernhard Goetz, a white “vigilante” who had repeatedly shot several young black men in a subway car.

*Oct. 29, 1988. Members of Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee of ALAA joined Staten Island protest against the racist murder of African American teenager Derrick Tyrus.

*[Date 1989]. Members of Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee of ALAA joined protests in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, demanding indictment of white racists who shot to death 16-year-old Yusef Hawkins an African American teen.

*September 1989, Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee of ALAA publicly condemned “preferential treatment” accorded white teenagers charged with murdering Black teenager Yusef Hawkins, and demonization of African American teenagers falsely accused of attacking a white Central Park jogger.

*February 1, 1990. ALAA demonstration focused media attention on the police-instigated beating in the Brooklyn court pens of a defendant charged with child sexual abuse.

*August 15, 1990. Front-page press coverage reported ALAA’s charge that guards on Rikers Island had inflicted a “secret mass beating” in which “[t]he walls were covered with the inmates’ blood” and one inmate was fatally injured. “There was,” charged ALAA, “no resistance, there was no provocation. It was like declaring open season on inmates.” Mayor Dinkins ordered an investigation of the charges.

*Early 1990s. ALAA took an increasingly public stance against the “war on drugs,” which it characterized as a reflection of “institutional racism.”

*1991. ALAA opposed Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination, criticized the provision of Glock automatic pistols to the NYPD, and organized against the epidemic of police abuse.

*October 20, 1997. In the wake of police torture of Abner Louima, establishment of joint LAS/ALAA/1199 committee to implement and expand upon new ALAA contract provisions to combat police misconduct and abuse.

*March 22, 1999. More than thirty ALAA and 1199 members are arrested during protests at NYPD headquarters against the police murder of Amadou Diallo.

*June 1999. ALAA legal observer Antonia Codling arrested during with mass protest against the police murder of Patrick Dorismond (charges later dissmissed).

*October 23, 1999. ALAA plays leading role in Anti-Klan protest in Foley Square.

*March 22, 2000. In response to the police murder of Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and other people of color, ALAA issues wide-ranging demands, including dismissal of the police commissioner, indictment of police officers, abolition of police sweeps, and an end to the “war on drugs.”

*March 21, 2001. ALAA denounces the “NYPD’s War On Blacks.”

*February 21, 2002. ALAA denounces the “Bush administration’s broad assault on precious civil liberties and democratic rights,” including the systematic attack on “men of Muslim and Middle Eastern origin.”

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