Anthony Graves asks “How can you applaud death?” in response to members of the audience at the GOP debate clapping and cheering about the 234 executions conducted under Rick Perry. We need to show the nation a counter example to the clapping at the GOP debate, so please make plans to attend the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty. Come clap for justice, not killing. On October 22nd in Austin, it is our turn to clap and cheer when as many as 20-25 death row exonerees urge us to end the death penalty.
Anthony Graves read in the newspaper about the crowd at the Republican presidential debate applauding the fact that Gov. Rick Perry had authorized 234 executions during his tenure.
“How can you applaud death?” Graves asked.
Graves is one of 12 death row inmates who have been exonerated in Texas since 1973. Five of those exonerations occurred while Rick Perry was governor, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment.
“The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place in which when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court if that’s required,” Perry said during the debate Wednesday.
Perry defended the use of the death penalty in his state and told the audience, “I think Americans understand justice.”
But Graves said his mother would not be one of those Americans. Graves spent 18 years in prison and 12 years on death row as a convicted murder. In 2010 his conviction was overturned and he was released.
“He should ask my mother about that, ” he says. “She lost her son for 18 years.”
Graves says he was stunned at the governor’s comments because he was exonerated less than a year ago. “I was exonerated from the very same system that he is boasting about. He’s a politician, but I’m an exoneree and I think I know more about the subject.”