UPDATE: Stay of Execution Issued for Rodney Reed
WASHINGTON: This morning a vast coalition of faith groups joined together at the U.S. Supreme Court to call for the freedom of condemned Texas prisoner Rodney Reed. Representatives from Reed’s family, the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church, Uri L’Tzedek, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi International, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, Death Penalty Action and Witness to Innocence all came to show support for Mr. Reed and to call for an end to the death penalty.
Rodney Reed is scheduled for execution on Wednesday, November 20th, by the state of Texas despite a bipartisan call for his freedom. Reed’s counsel calls him “a demonstrably innocent man on Texas’ death row.”
Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Associate General Secretary for the National Council of Churches, began her remarks by saying, “We were told that the Supreme Court will be taking up the question of whether it is constitutional to murder somebody who was innocent? I’m devastated that this is a question.”
The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether to take up Rodney Reed’s case during their regular 10 am conference this morning. The petition before the Court includes the question: “Does the conviction or execution of a person who is actually innocent of the crime violate the United States Constitution?”
Days ago, Texas Senator Ted Cruz joined a bipartisan call on behalf of Mr. Reed. “Having spent years in law enforcement, I believe capital punishment can be justice for the very worst murderers,” Cruz tweeted. “But if there is credible evidence there’s a real chance a defendant is innocent, that evidence should be weighed carefully.”
Rev. Christopher Zacharias, Pastor of John Wesley AME Zion Church in Washington, DC, said, “I serve a risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who teaches if you come to him, the truth will set you free. But since that truth from my old childhood games, I double-dog dare the Supreme Court to set Rodney Reed free, based on the truth of his innocence.”
“In 2019, it is difficult to believe the question remains that it is OK to execute a person whose guilt is in doubt,” said Abraham Bonowitz, co-director of Death Penalty Action. “No one is well served by a legal system which allows a case to get to this point. We pray the Court takes this case so that it can declare without ambiguity that executing the innocent is unconstitutional.”
Rev. Alexander continued, “And we’re talking about state-sanctioned murder. It’s not just sanctioned by the state. The state IS the murderer. The governor is the murderer. The prosecutor who knows that the person is innocent is the murderer.”
The National Council of Churches issued a call for the abolition of the death penalty in 1968, citing “the possibility of errors in judgment and the irreversibility of the penalty which make impossible any restitution to one who has been wrongfully executed.” The Council recently issued a statement opposing the reinstating of the Federal death penalty, reiterating that “Our Christian faith is clear that life and the dignity of human personhood are sacred gifts of God and as such shall not be violated.”
Persons are urged to call Texas Governor Greg Abbott (512)-463-2000 and District Attorney Bryan Goertz (512) 581-7125 and sign this petition to call for Rodney Reed’s freedom.