Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.

I saw a staged reading of The Exonerated at Oglethorpe University, here in Atlanta, last week.7 Stages Theatre took the lead once again, in allowing social justice concerns to "play a part" in what we see onstage....Mike Farrell(of MASH-TV-series fame)was there, reading--- along with several local actors-- the words of real-life Death Row(pun intended)inmates.ALL these inmates suffered for years on Death Row, before DNA evidence cleared them completely, and set them free....
I have known for a long time that the legal/penal system is not just and fair... That the Death Penalty is a holdover from the days of lynchings
(it's no accident that our beloved Southern States---the ones with the particularly cruel history of hangings and lynchings---
are the states in which it's easy to find lots of otherwise friendly-folk jumping up and down with glee whenever a condemned individual is walked to the chair, or lately, to the needle...)
But, back to The Exonerated...
What made tiny, blond, down-y hairs on my arm stand up, as if saluting?These words--in referring to years robbed from one inmate:
"Imagine if 1976 to 1992 had never happened.."
Let's see....1976--my second year of college was beginning-- I was poor, struggling, and enjoying learning all about theatre;I was in love with the first love of my life(Peter, a brilliant writer, and an ardent, skilled partner)...Jump ahead to 1992--I'm an actress, and I've held over 50 different jobs(all were legal, two were of questionable ethics) and I'm falling in and out of love with one man( intelligent, but no integrity), and several women(all smart and gorgeous, only one suitable as a partner)....

I've spent a lot of time-- especially the past several years-- feeling angry.
I've got health, a loving family, a fiancee' I deeply love and value, caring, warm friends, and strong desires--all things to be grateful for...
So why was I angry? The government, this President, his Administration, a large number of the folks who voted these people into power, etc...and I felt angry about a few unresolved childhood issues, too...

There was another phrase in The Exonerated that will now live in me.An inmate says:
"I am not angry.I won't waste the time I have now, on anger."

Enlightenment seems to come at us from everywhere, and anywhere.

I know for what I am thankful.
I own my hours, my days, my weeks, my months, my years.
I know I own them...Now, I must figure out how to do these years--- these years I own---justice...


dudley sharp said...

"The Exonerated" -  anti truth, anti victim - are any actually innocent?
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
The Exonerated is a true story just as CATS and The Lion King are.
Reviews of each case, with links for your own review.

1) Sunny Jacobs -- After the shooting, still at the scene of the murders, a trooper asked Jacobs: "Do you like shooting troopers?" Jacobs response:  "We had to."  There is no evidence to support a claim of innocence for Jacobs in the murder of two police officers in Florida. She eventually pled guilty to two counts of second degree murder and was released for time served, after 16 years. Hardly a finding of innocence.  

The best review of the blatant dishonesty of this "Exonerated" case is

--   "The Myth of Innocence", By Josh Marquis
The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, March 31, 2005
Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois
--   "The Innocent and the Shammed", By Josh Marquis
New York Times, January 26, 2006

--  "Not Guilty Isn't the Same as Innocent:
One DA's crusade to point out the fatal flaw in Court TV's The Exonerated
Michael Miner,  CHICAGO READER, February 05, 2005

Mr. Marquis can be reached at, or  503-791-0012.

also  go to pages 40-46 at

2) Robert Earl Hayes  Nothing about Hayes’ retrial changes the appeals court’s original observation that evidence existed to establish Hayes’ guilt. 

Hayes has now been convicted of a nearly identical murder in New York, which was committed prior to the murder in Florida.    Go to

no. 74 at
and pages 43-46 at www(dot)

3) David Keaton --  Keaton's defense attorney stated that even without Keaton's numerous confessions, that the eyewitness testimony was likely sufficient to convict Keaton for the capital murder. 

Through the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses, Keaton's numerous confessions, as well as those of co-defendants, Keaton was sentenced to death. There is no credible claim for innocence in this case of robbery/murder. The case was overturned on appeal. The prosecution chose not to re prosecute for a number of good reasons  --  1. he was no longer subject to the death penalty, because of changes in the law 2. Keaton was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a robbery that he committed ten days prior to the robbery/murder for which he was sentenced to death and 3. illness of witnesses.

Keaton was sentenced to death in 1971, under the old death penalty law. He was on death row for 13 months when the US Supreme Court overturned all death penalty cases in Furman v Georgia.

read pages 56-65 at www(dot)

4) Delbert Tibbs -- The Florida Supreme Court candidly conceded that it should not have reversed Tibbs' conviction since the evidence was legally sufficient.

The state prosecutor who chose not to retry Tibbs  recently explained to the Florida Commission on Capital Crimes that Tibbs “was never an innocent man wrongfully accused. He was a lucky human being. He was guilty, he was lucky and now he is free."  

See no.10 at
and pages 123-127 at www(dot)

5) Kerry Max Cook -- The judge, in accepting Cook's no contest plea, said that Cook was guilty of the crime and that the state was capable of proving its case.

This is not a DNA exoneration case.

Mr. Cook was convicted of the murder of Linda Jo Edwards, who was found in her apartment on June 10, 1977, beaten on the head with a plaster statue, stabbed in the throat, chest and back and sexually mutilated. Mr. Cook was arrested 2 months later where he worked as a bartender in Port Arthur. Officers said they found Mr. Cook's fingerprint on Ms. Edwards' apartment door. At first he denied knowing Ms. Edwards. Cook lied. He later said they met at the apartment complex's swimming pool and he went to her apartment. His original conviction resulting in a death sentence was overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. A 1992 retrial ended in a hung jury. He was again convicted and sentenced to death in 1994. That verdict was overturned in 1996. Before a 4th trial, Mr. Cook pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of murder. He was sentenced to 20 years time served. Mr. Cook took the deal so he could avoid a possible return to death row. By taking the plea, both Cook and his attorneys conceded that this is hardly a case where there is no evidence for guilt and certainly not a case with confirmable actual innocence.
for more on this case, contact David Dobbs at david (at)

6) Gary Gauger -- Gauger confessed to the murder of his parents. That confession was thrown out based upon the lack of probable cause to arrest him -- not because it was a false confession. 
However, two motorcycle gang members are incarcerated in the murders, based upon their discussions of the murders, gathered from law enforcement wiretaps.  There was a connection between Gary, his parents and motorcycle gangs. Motorcyclists would shop at the Gauger's farm store. Even though there is speculation of a connection between Gary and the two convicted motorcyclists, law enforcement has not been able to confirm one. 
Speculation as to actual guilt or innocence will continue in this case.

Furthermore, the trial court erroneously imposed a death sentence. The court granted a motion for reconsideration and vacated the sentence less than ten months later in September 1994. The trial court found that it had not considered all the mitigating evidence and concluded that Gauger should not be sentenced to death. People v. Bull, 705 N.E.2d 824, 843 (Ill. 1999); Chicago Tribune (9/23/94). Gauger served a brief time on death row. He was not properly sentenced to death by the trial court. He should never have been sent to death row because the trial court did not finally sentence him to be executed. Gauger’s case is an example of how consideration of mitigating evidence under current law results in a sentence less than death.
see no. 69 at www(dot)

Some additional articles:

"Cross-Examination for a Drama That Puts the Death Penalty on Trial",  Adam Liptak,  New York Times, January 27, 2005

"Prosecutors take exception to Court TV film", Richard Willing, USA TODAY, 1/24/05

"The Myth of Innocence:Don't believe everything you see on CourtTV", Joshua Marquis, National Review, 1/27/05  www(dot)


Audiences are being duped to further a political/social agenda. Theater critics simply don't bother to fact check and blindly accept and repeat whatever the producers tell them.

Only one theater critic, Tom Sime of the Dallas Morning News, bothered to see if the claims were true. His brief review resulted in this published comment:  "Maybe three are actually innocent and three actually aren't.  In any case, blind faith - in the criminal justice process or in the truth of crusading art- is best left at home."

"The Exonerated" is strictly a bit of anti-death penalty deception, which is not at all surprising.  It appears that the Soros Foundation, through their Open Society Institute (OSI) is the primary benefactor of  "The Exonerated" . The Soros Foundation may well be the largest financier of anti death penalty efforts, worldwide.

As their website states:   "The Exonerated" —a new documentary play produced by The Culture Project a grantee of OSI's Criminal Justice Initiative and Arts Initiative—focuses on the stories of six innocent men and women who spent years on death row before being set free thanks to new evidence and emerging DNA technology."    from sorosny(dot)org/crime/

Copyright 2002-2006
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, BBC and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites
www(dot) (Sweden)

Lisa Allender said...

Hi--Lisa Allender here, responding to your comments, Dudley.
"The Exonerated" is a dramatization of events---I'm sorry that you apparently do not understand what that means...A dramatization of a story MAY reveal a universal truth, or it may simply ask questions of us, or it may do both.
I see you originally were against the Death Penalty. I find it very sad that you have somehow decided that the Death Penalty, in any form, for any reason, is acceptable.
Human beings do not have the "right" to kill each other, for any reason. And Government-ordered and sanctioned death is even more chilling!
We have only to look at the countries who still employ the Death Penalty, to see the inhumanity of it.
ALL of these countries have governments that we, the people of the U.S.A. say we vehemently oppose--most of the Middle East...and China.No accident that the worst human rights' abuses and the largest number of death sentences handed out, are in these countries, carried out by their fascist, or dictatorial, or in the case of China, Communist governments...

You are free to your opinion, Dudley, no matter how misguided.

For more information on the Death Penalty, and why it is a poor choice--- and an inhumane and unethical and immoral one--- please consult the following sources:

ABOLISH (the death penalty) Discussion List Archives
A semi-moderated discussion list serving as a forum for the exchange of ideas and information, political as well as philosophical, by people who support the immediate abolition of capital punishment in the United States and abroad; it "does not nor will it ever serve as a forum for debate regarding abolition vs. retention." Archives are also maintained at St. John's University.
ACLU Death Penalty Campaign
The American Civil Liberties Union considers the death penalty to be unconstitutional under the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that its discriminatory application violates the Fourteenth Amendment.

Amnesty International Website Against the Death Penalty:
Amnesty International is a well-known international human rights organization based in London, with chapters throughout the world. It has an ongoing worldwide anti-death penalty campaign and issues reports on the death penalty in a number of countries, including the U.S.

The Program to Abolish the Death Penalty: Amnesty International USA's page for the campaign to abolish the death penalty worldwide.

Papers and Related Death Penalty Writings
Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP):
An activist organization advocating restoratives justice and alternative sentencing for convicted murders (i.e., a minimum of 25 years imprisonment before parole eligibility for convicted murders, and life imprisonment without possibility of parole in some cases.)

Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC):
A non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. It prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefings for journalists, and serves as a resource to those working on this issue.
Developed and maintained by a network of national organizations opposed to capital punishment.

The Death Penalty is Dead Wrong:
Part of the JusticeNet Prison Issues Desk. News items, abolition resources, and groups working toward abolition.

Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation:

Abolitionist organization comprising relatives of homicide victims. "MVFR knows that - in spite of that pain - vengeance is not the answer. The taking of another life by state killing only continues the cycle of violence."

National Center on Institutions and Alternatives:
NCIA is a private, nonprofit agency which focuses on alternatives to institutionalization, reduction of correctional overcrowding, community reintegration of offenders, and other criminal justice reforms.

Capital Case Assistance: Capital cases in which NCIA has assisted and succeeded in mitigating the defendant's sentence.
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
A nationwide coalition of nearly 150 national, state, and local organizations working toward the abolition of capital punishment.

Physicians for Human Rights: Research & Investigations
Several documents here on the involvement of medical doctors in executions by lethal injection, in violation of ethical standards set by the American Medical Association.

Anti-Death Penalty Organizations in the States
This list is not comprehensive.

Death Penalty Focus of California: A California nonprofit with nearly 10,000 members providing information on California death penalty law, the cost of the death penalty in California, and activities of the organization.
Lamp of Hope Project: Texas nonprofit primarily administered by Texas death row prisoners. Its mission is "to educate the public about the death penalty and alternatives; to support victims' families by promoting healing and reconciliation; and to support prisoners' families, thereby breaking the cycle of violence."
Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VADP): Statewide citizens' organization dedicated to educating the public about alternatives to capital punishment and providing outreach to the families of murder victims. See also A Virginia Death Row Site.
Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: A coalition, created in 1984, of community, religious, and legal organizations in Washington State opposing capital punishment. This site provides information on Washington's death penalty and death row (sometimes more up-to-date than information provided by the Washington Department of Corrections), as well as activist alerts, a quarterly newsletter, and other information.
Anti-Death Penalty Sites & Organizations in Other Nations
This list is not comprehensive.

Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty: ACADP works against the death penalty internationally and against the reintroduction of the death penalty to Australia. Australia has no death penalty.
Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty: The CCADP is a non-profit, human rights organization dedicated to educating on alternatives to the death penalty worldwide, with a special focus on the U.S. and providing emotional and practical support to death row inmates, their families, and the families of murder victims. (Canada does not itself have a death penalty.)
Fight the Death Penalty in the USA: A frequently-updated Danish site by Niels Graverholt with extensive information in both Danish and English, including selected articles from Danish and German media about U.S. death penalty cases.
Lifespark: A Swiss anti-death penalty organization with information in English, German, Italian, and Spanish. Lifespark specializes in setting up penfriendships with U.S. death row inmates.
Moratorium 2000 International Campaign: Information in English and Italian on a campaign for an international moratorium on the death penalty by the year 2000; through the Comunità di Sant'Egidio, a religious community in Rome.
Finally, I personally recommend checking out your local Pax Christi organization, by going to: