News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 13, 2006

Death-penalty abolitionists note stay of death sentences

Instead of a grim week of back-to-back vigils outside the federal execution chamber in Terre Haute, an Indiana group of death-penalty abolitionists had cause to celebrate, they said.

Members of the Indiana Information Center for the Abolition of Capital Punishment met at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College on Saturday to signify the lack of executions this week at the Federal Correctional Institute in Terre Haute.

Home to the only federal death chamber in the U.S., the prison is where inmates who have been sentenced to death by the federal government go to be executed.

This past week would have been a busy one for the federal prison, as three executions by lethal injection were scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

None of the three deaths was carried out, after U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle issued a stay of execution in February for co-defendants James H. Roane Jr., Richard Tipton and Cory Johnson.

Members of the IICACP, based out of Indianapolis, conduct vigils for executions that occur in Indiana, sometimes standing outside a prison all night holding candles to spread awareness for their cause.

Before the three scheduled executions were stayed, abolitionists planned to spend a grim week in Terre Haute.

The vigils can be draining and usually are unpopular, according to Glenda Breeden, an IICACP member as well as secretary of the Bloomington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Breeden said while she doesn’t agree, she does understand the desire to end the lives of those who are convicted of committing heinous crimes.

“But just because [some] think they deserve to die doesn’t give us the right to do the killing,” she said. “We can surely hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

Priscilla Hutton, a trained psychologist who gives spiritual direction to prisoners at the Rockville Women’s Prison, was invited to attend Saturday’s meeting.

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    March 12, 2010