ats It c McAbc21Lt?_ Parisian Charm. Omelette & Champagne Breakfast. Beautiful Crepes. Afternoon Cocktails. Gallant Waiters. Delicious Quiche. Evening Romance. Continental Steaks. Mysterious Women. Famous Pastries. Cognac & Midnight Rendezvous. In short, it’s about everything a great European style restaurant is all about. h ks n Ott of 310 East 6th St. Austin, Texas Amnesty International: Texas’ Death Row Biggest Austin Amnesty . International, the Nobel Prize-winning organization with some success at focusing attention on human rights violators around the world, now has its eye on Texas, and on the other 37 states in this country that retain the death penalty. AI opposes the death penalty unconditionally as a violation of the right to life and the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the state of Texas alone, more people are under sentence of death than in any nation in the Western Hemisphere with two women and between 155 and 167 men, according to various estimates and Florida, with 164 death-row inmates; are the leaders among the 38 death penalty states. Capital punishment in Texas, in the words of AI volunteer Marie Deans, is “most entrenched.” Deans, a Charleston, South Carolina native, and Rose Styron, who lives in Connecticut with her husband, the novelist William Styron, were in Texas recently as part of a group investigating death-row conditions throughout the United States. According to Styron, for nine years a member of the AI governing board, the group is focusing on the United States where, as of Dec. 31, 1981 some 924 men and women were under sentence of death because of this country’s international influence. Every country in Western Europe has abolished the death penalty, she pointed out, as have Canada, Peru, Brazil, and Nicaragua. “That leaves us allied with Iran, the communist countries, some mideast countries, and very few of the Latin American countries,” she said. “We are very concerned about our message to countries like Iran. They see no difference, and they frequently bring this up, between our crimes against society and their crimes against God.” Amnesty International has also taken the position that death row itself is cruel and inhuman punishment, basically a de facto second sentencing. “You’re treating them like they’re already dead, like things,” Deans said. “Texas is the worst I’ve seen,” she said. “It’s sterile, no minister or other volunteers can come in from the outside, lawyers have to visit with no privacy just like other guests. They’re in their cell 23 hours a day, and there are no contact visits at all, notice I didn’t say conjugal visits, but contact visits, not so much as a handshake with somebody. You can’t even touch your own kids if they come to visit.” According to Deans, death row inmates are separated from their visitors by a wire mesh so heavy it’s almost impossible to see through, and they must sit elbow to elbow with other prisoners who have guests. The noise level is extremely high, and a guard constantly walks up and down the line. “This is a maximum-security prison and guards are everywhere,” she said, “so why is all this necessary? It’s all so closed in, so tight, the tension is just rising.” Deans also noted that Texas is the only state where prisoners have been on death row six and seven years without going through the automatic appeals process. “People on death row,” she said, “realize it could be 10 years before their case is disposed of, and about half of these people will come off death row.” AI is also raising questions about lethal injection as a means of execution, seeking to alert doctors and nurses in the four states, including Texas, where lethal injection has been mandated, to the ethical abuses that their participation incurs. “The TDC director W. J. Estelle has said that any medically trained personnel can do it,” Styron pointed out. “That could be anybody guards, inmates, anybody the prison has trained to give the injection. These first few people who will die by lethal injection are going to be guinea pigs. “Amnesty can work for legislation, and it can educate the public,” Styron said. “For example, almost every church in the United States has taken a stand against the death penalty, but particularly in the South, that’s being totally ignored. One of the things we like to do is read them their resolution and ask them what they’re doing about it. “We also go to medical personnel and ask them to uphold their ideals,” Deans said. “It’s the same thing we do in foreign countries. We go to government officials, read them their constitution and ask them if they’re upholding it. It’s pub licity, pointing the finger, exerting moral pressure.” In Austin, Deans and Styron visited with Hilary Doran, executive assistant to Gov. Clements. “He started out by saying he was for the death penalty because people sentenced to death deserve it,” Deans said. “He also said that losing a few innocent people is the chance you take. But as we talked to him, he became progressively more interested and was actually very helpful. He and David Herndon \(the governor’s general counand delineating state laws related to the death penalty. Each state has very different laws. In Texas, for example, the parole board has more power than in other states.” Both Styron and Deans were well aware that the next execution in Texas is set for May 21, and that the man sentenced to die has been convicted of a particulary heinous crime giving his son cyanide-treated candy as a Halloween treat. As Deans pointed out, AI focuses on the punishment, not on the guilt or innocence of the person sentenced to die. “What we are saying,” she emphasized, “is that there is no justification for taking a human life, none.” J.H. 12 MAY 7, 1982
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