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UK: Face-to-face with death row inmates at London show
Fri Jul 3, 2009 13:08

Face-to-face with death row inmates at London show

Fri Jul 3, 2009
By Julie Mollins

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Death row inmates depicted in oil paintings
by British artist Claire Phillips, on view in London's South Bank
gallery@oxo, have one thing in common.

"All are demonstrably innocent, or very probably innocent," according
to Clive Stafford Smith, director of prisoners' rights organization
Reprieve, which sponsors the touring five-day "Human Face of Death
Row" exhibit on show at Oxo until July 5.

"They are very powerless people who face an incredible distillation
of hatred resulting in society wanting them dead."

Among the paintings of three current inmates is Briton Linda Carty,
who has been on death row in Texas for eight years for murdering a
neighbor. Her case is in the final stage of the appeals process.

The prosecution' s case was based on testimony from three people
accused of the same murder who, in exchange for statements against
Carty, avoided the death penalty, according to Reprieve.

The four-hour visit Phillips had with Carty was held under armed guard.

"They will be executing her soon," Phillips said of the experience.

"It's very different in each visit -- Linda just chatted away and ate
the five rice krispie bars and a cherry coke I took her."

Phillips, originally from Hammersmith in London, was not permitted to
take any painting tools with her when she visited the inmates, so
created the portraits from memory and other sources.

The exhibition also includes images of three former death row inmates
who were freed after serving prison terms, along with an executioner;
a legislator who introduced lethal injection and a foreperson on a
jury that convicted and sentenced a man to death who was later found
to be innocent.

"All the black people are on death row and all the white people are
in positions of authority," Phillips said of her portraits.

"I didn't intend to become a campaigner," she added. "As an artist I
wanted to communicate their stories.

"I've achieved putting the stories together. Make your mind up -- is
this system the way to go?"

Reprieve founder and lawyer Stafford Smith is also featured in one of
the paintings.

Phillips selected him as a subject because she was intrigued by him
as someone "who had all the advantages of a public school education
and yet had chosen to ignore the attractions of wealth and
materialism in order to defend the powerless and vulnerable."

Originally from the U.S., Stafford Smith has worked on getting due
process for Guantanamo inmates since 2004, as well as death penalty

"As much as in the old days we would sacrifice an animal to God to
solve our problems, today we take the life of a human being,"
Stafford Smith said, adding that politics of fear and hatred fuel the
urge to invoke the death penalty.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

  • The human face of death row (8 pictures)Petra, Fri Jun 26 14:59
    The human face of death row (8 pictures) 5 / 8 Linda Carty is a British citizen who has been on... more
    • UK: Face-to-face with death row inmates at London show — Petra, Fri Jul 3 13:08
      • abusesYvette Holden, Sat Jul 4 05:56
        Why are we not appalled by prisoners being abused? Or is it only when they have been exonerated we object because now this innocent person has been tortured! Prisoners being abused is not acceptable... more
        • Re: abusesxkittenx, Sun Jul 5 10:20
          you think she will be found innocent? Linda Carty is a law onto herself and she does not help matter with her attuiude,she thinks she is above the rest of us,guily or not maybe this bring her back to ... more
          • ReplyYvette Holden, Mon Jul 6 01:52
            I know very little about this womans case so I cannot comment on guilt or innocence ( but a convicted in Texas the chances are the woman is innocent). My opinion was concerning her being abused by... more
            • Re: ReplyPetra, Mon Jul 6 16:41
              I never saw a consequense for officals, just a "go ahead" with torture and murder .... TORTURE:... more
              • abusesYvette Holden, Thu Jul 9 05:12
                This just confirms what I wrote we all turn a blind eye to the abuses which is totally unacceptable but I believe prison abuses and long sentences all tie in. They dish out long sentences this makes... more
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