Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Support Clemency for Kelly and Reform Criminal Justice System

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ga-woman-set-execution-seeks-clemency-reconsideration-29325539

Bridget Mary's Response:
I don't get a system of justice that releases the real killer and executes a woman who is clearly reformed according to the testimony of the prison officials! 
I am praying for clemency and the reform of our penal code. Hey, friends, let's do something about all this injustice in our criminal justice system! What are our next steps here?
 Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
ABC News Story
"The execution of the first female in Georgia in 70 years was on hold Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed last-minute arguments by her lawyers that they hoped would persuade the nation's top justices to grant a stay.
Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, was scheduled to die by injection of pentobarbital at 7 p.m. in the state prison for the February 1997 murder of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner.
Still pending was a response from the high court after an appellate court rejected her lawyers' request for a delay on the grounds that Georgia's lethal-injection procedures aren't transparent enough to be challenged in court. Late Monday, her lawyers also added that the court should take into account the fact that she didn't kill her husband herself, and that she had been thoroughly rehabilitated.
Previously, courts had found Gissendaner had plotted the stabbing death of her husband by her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, who will be up for parole in eight years after accepting a life sentence and testifying against her.
Gissendaner would be only the 16th woman put to death nationwide since the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976. About 1,400 men have been executed since then, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, the only entity authorized to commute a death sentence, denied clemency last week and upheld that decision late Monday. The woman's lawyers had urged the board to reconsider and "bestow mercy" by commuting her sentence to life without parole. The board said it voted to abide by its earlier decision after "careful consideration" of the request.
Kelly and Douglas Gissendaner had a troubled relationship, repeatedly splitting up and getting back together, divorcing and remarrying. She was a 28-year-old mother of three children, 12, 7 and 5 years old. And she had an on-again, off-again lover in Owen.
In prison, Gissendaner eventually took responsibility: Rather than divorcing her husband again, she pushed Owen to kill him. Acting on her instructions, Owen ambushed her husband while she went out dancing with friends, and forced him to drive to a remote area. Then he marched him into the woods and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said.
Owen and Gissendaner then met up and set fire to the dead man's car in an attempted cover-up, and both initially denied involvement, but Owen eventually confessed and testified against his former girlfriend.
Her lawyers challenged the constitutionality of her sentence as disproportionate, given that she wasn't there when Owen killed her husband, and yet Owen will eventually be eligible for parole. But Georgia's Supreme Court voted 5-2 Monday to deny her motion, citing Owen's testimony that she pushed for murder rather than divorce so that she could get her husband's insurance money.
In their request Monday for reconsideration, Gissendaner's lawyers said the parole board did not have a chance to hear the overwhelmingly positive testimony of many corrections employees who declined to speak up for fear of retaliation.
Her clemency petition already included testimonials from dozens of spiritual advisers, inmates and prison staff who described a seriously damaged woman transformed through faith behind bars. She has shown remorse and provided hope to struggling inmates while helping guards maintain control, they said."

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