Activist walks to abolish death penalty
March 21, 2008
Andre Latallade, hip-hop artist and prison rights activist, also known as Capital-X, will walk from New Jersey to Texas to advocate for the abolishment of capital punishment in the US. He will walk 1700 miles through 10 of the states with the highest execution rate. His objective is to reach the governor's mansion in Austin, TX--what he dubs the "busiest killing state in the country--before the Supreme Court's ruling on whether death by lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment.

In September 2007 Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr., two death row inmates in Kentucky after losing an appeal in the Kentucky Supreme Court were able to get the Supreme Court to consider the fundamental question of whether the mix of drugs used in Kentucky and elsewhere violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Currently there is a moratorium on state-sanctioned executions while the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of that method of execution.

Latallade will begin his "Walk for Life" at 5 a.m. on March 31, 2008 at the state house in Trenton, NJ, the first state to abolish the death penalty in the last 40 years. He estimates that it will take 54 days walking eight hours per day at 3.5 miles per hour with a respite from April 18-20 in order to participate in a panel discussion at the Hip Hop Association's HHEAL Festival in the Bronx, NY.

Uniting the families of murder victims and the families of the condemned, Latallade in building bridges between the two groups is calling for the acceptance of life sentences without parole instead of death sentences for those found guilty of the crime.

A daily video blog documenting Latallade's journey will be posted here. To contact Latallade send an e-mail here.

Editor's notes: According to a list compiled by The Missourinet, currently, 46 men (25 white, 21 black) await execution dates in Missouri, a state where death by lethal injection was upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court. One of the inmates, Michael Taylor, was granted a stay of execution in February 2006 based upon his claim that the method of execution by lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment. But does it fit the crime? Taylor and a friend named Roderick Nunley kidnapped a 15-year old girl named Ann Harrison while she was waiting at a school bus stop in Kansas City. Taylor raped her. The two perpetrators stabbed her over a dozen times causing her eventual death.

Joe Amrine of Kansas City, however, spent 17 years on death row in Missouri after wrongly being convicted of stabbing to death a fellow inmate. He is one of over 125 men and women exonerated for capital crime nationwide, since the advent of DNA testing.

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