Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kenneth's New Address

Kenneth Foster Jr. #1451768
Mcconnell Unit
3001 South Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102

September 13, 2007

Kenneth Foster to Remain in Solitary Confinement Despite Commuted Sentence

Supporters of former Texas death row inmate Kenneth Foster, Jr. learned today that he will remain in solitary confinement indefinitely at the McConnell Unit in Beeville. He has been placed at the lowest security level, meaning he has the highest amount of restrictions on his daily activities. He will only be allowed two visits per month and will not have contact visits.

Family and supporters of Foster had expected that his commutation would result in looser restrictions on his visitations. Specifically, they had hoped he would be able to have contact visits with his wife, Tasha Narez-Foster, and his daughter, Nydesha Foster. Foster has never had physical contact with his wife and has not touched his daughter since she was an infant.

“This is a very discouraging development,” said Lily Hughes of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, “Obviously, we are happy that Kenneth is no longer on death row, but the fact that he is living under basically the same conditions as death row is unacceptable.” Inmates on Texas’ death row live in 22-hour lockdown and do not have contact visits with family.

Foster was scheduled to be executed on August 30 for the murder of Michael LaHood, Jr. in San Antonio. Foster did not shoot the gun that ended LaHood’s life, but was driving the car carrying the actual triggerman, Mauriceo Brown. Foster was convicted and sentenced to death under the Law of Parties, which allows the state to seek convictions for those present at the scene of a crime as if they committed it. Since Foster’s original trial, the other men in the car that night have testified that Foster had no idea LaHood would be shot.

Foster’s case generated widespread international attention over the summer, mainly due to the Austin-based movement against his execution. Formed in May, the Save Kenneth Foster Campaign held weekly meetings, public rallies, and contacted media in an effort to halt Foster’s impending execution.

Approximately six hours before Foster was to be put to death, Governor Rick Perry approved the Board of Pardons and Paroles’ 6-1 recommendation in favor of clemency. "I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment,” Perry said in a statement following the commutation, “I am concerned about Texas law that allows capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously, and it is an issue I think the Legislature should examine."

Friday, September 7, 2007

A New Message from Kenneth!

I wanted to sit down and address a few people directly, because I think it's important to give thanks to those that made this victory possible. If it wasn't for certain people I know I would not be alive today.

First and foremost, I give praise and thanks to The Most High for giving me the strength to carry on through all these years for I know that I didn't do it by myself. I've watched too many men give up, condemn themselves, mutilate themselves, try to commit suicide and then there was those that did commit it. When we say that we live in a hell the description is pretty close. I didn't just start praying when I got this date. I've been striving towards spiritual attainment for a LONG time. But, prayer takes time and it does work.

Without the support and love of my grandparents and Uncle Lloyd I wouldn't be here. They've been the rock foundation to my house since DAY ONE! There were here when it started and they were here at the end. Much of who I am today is because of them and I have a life long service of betterment dedicated to them.

And to my daughter for being the warrior princess she is. Her love made and kept me.

I have to give an unmatched love to my wife who has been by my side for over 2 years now; a person whom when was hated on she just found a way to dig in harder! No relationship is perfect, but through the fire we just become more purified. We've rolled with all the punches and if we've made it this far then there is no stopping or turning back.

Much love to my dad for stepping up when it counted. The same to my cousin Beverly Fisher whom rallied the troops. Big love to all my cousins, Aunts and Uncles that came to my side. You all touched my heart in a MAJOR way. Thank you for being there, because your vibes kept me positive.

Then I've got to give HUGE props to my good friend Adam Axel for doing amazing things. This young man has done some things that probably many of you don't realize. This guy was literally like a central command for me. You all have no idea. He acted as a central station to get me messages/letters/printouts/emails/updates from all over the world. Almost weekly I was getting 100 page Fed-X packages. Outside of the general campaign work he went above and beyond what was expected. I was definitely blessed to have you on my side. Outside of the work he kept me level headed and inspired. He's got a great future ahead of him.

And have no doubts about it I have to extend gigantic revolutionary greetings to the vanguard of the anti-death penalty movement the CEDP! These people are gladiators when it comes to grassroots activism and they definitely were the force behind this frontline. Bryan McCann you definitely helped us move mountains, and the whole Austin crew (Randi, Stefanie, Laura, Dana and the other comrades). We did this from Coast to Coast - made the people hear us. These other so called anti death penalty groups need to take some notes from how this group moves and functions for if they followed suit we may be able to abolish this death penalty very shortly. Just think that if all the anti death penalty groups moved in this fashion. It's time to revamp their strategies. Use the CEDP as an example they ARE the vanguard.

While there's no other groups that I can extend that type of thanks to there are individuals of groups that I'd like to thank for showing me some great support and solidarity. Big props goes to Steve Hall for making some big things happen. Thanks to Scott Cobb for holding an event on my behalf and also to Dave Atwood for being there. All of this played a role in this victory.

And from the top of my heart let me say that the love and support of Mary Felps and her crew helped me get where I am today. I was visited weekly by JoAnne Scott. They did to the best of their ability all they could for me. Much of that credit goes to her assistant JoAnne who mailed, typed, editted and so on. She definitely was a crutch that held me up. She is also the person that got Sean Paul Kelley on our team. Mary did amazing work through writing folks and did me a great service through an Amicus for Clemency to the Parole Board. There's much more too, but some things I'll just be taking to the grave with me one day (smile). They are amazing people.

I want to end with giving respect to some media channels that did me a great service: Pacifica, Forth Worth Star Telegram, Austin Statesman, Dallas Morning News. I want to specially thank KXAN for covering this story in a fair way. They were very much the professionals. I think these people gave extra support my way and they must know that I'm not going to let them down. There was so many petitions that I can't name them all.

I must give much love to June and her Italian Film crew who tirelessly covered this fight. To Chiara and the crew - I love you all too. I know I'm missing some folks by name but I got you in my heart. I especially got those in my heart that some of you never knew, but has been here for years like my god-mum Christine in England who helped me know love in new ways. Petra with ALIVE in germany. Grazia with PRC in Italy, who helped me with Sheila Murphy.

And yes, I owe Sheila Murphy so much for if nothing else being a spiritual friend. But she did an amazing Amicus Brief and we all owe ArchBishop Desmond Tutu so much love for supporting us. My French girls did amazing things - Emilie, Vi, Fatou, Kadia. Can't leave out my amazing web-master Ms. Jennie. That site was the heart of this body and she ran it like a pro! This has turned into a book, but it was necessary. My heart in overflooded with love and gratitude.

I haven't forgotten you, Keith Hampton. Though you gave me the blues on more occasions than I can name you stuck in there and kept me alive for 10 years where I could build this support team that helped make this happen. I've seen guys get to death row AFTER me and be done with their appeals and executed in 6 years. So, I'm thankful for the motions, supplements, Certs, motions (again,) rehearings etc.. that you filed.

Let it be known that I'm still not done fighting. As I've said as long as I have breath then freedom is within my grasp. I fully believe that it is not my destiny to spend the rest of these years in prison, though I know that being here for a minute is part of what I was called to do. My place is out there with you all working for this Struggle. For now I will do it from within here. But trust me, my gears have not stopped spinning on how to gain my freedom. (You should see the smile on my face right now.) I exit this message with nothing but love on my lips, but you will hear from me again. I have a new environment to adjust to, but I won't let one minute slip past me. I have so much that I want to pursue and do. And it will be done!

Peace, Love and Respect to you all.

Somebody send Mr. Rick Perry a complimentary DRIVE tshirt for me as a token of my deep gratitude!

Always, your soldier on the battlefield!