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UAlbany's National Death Penalty Archive Receives Records of National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 30, 2007) -- The University at Albany announced several additions to its National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA), including the official records of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), and the papers of long time activist November Belford. 

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Collection: The records include information that documents NCADP's mission and activities such as conference materials, publications, death row and clemency case files. NCADP was founded in 1976 in response to the Gregg v. Georgia Supreme Court decision, which reinstated the use of the death penalty in the United States.  As a Washington based advocacy group, NCADP lobbies against capital punishment through a variety of methods which include organizing protests and increasing public awareness. Through the efforts of its "Stop Killing Kids" Campaign, a movement that sought to bring an end to the death penalty for offenders whose crimes were committed while they were under the age of 18, NCADP was successful in ending the death penalty as punishment for juveniles in several states. In 2006 NCADP successfully fought death penalty reinstatement efforts in Wisconsin.

November Belford Papers: The papers of November Belford, a long time activist who married to a Texas Death Row prisoner Bobby West in 1988; about a decade later he was executed.  Belford launched a newspaper with West called Endeavor.  Belford later started a second newspaper, The Gathering. Among the collection: personal correspondence with a number of death row prisoners; newsletters published by death row prisoners; memorabilia; various publications from the National Execution Alert Network dating back to the 1980s; a copy of a signed petition requesting clemency for Warren E. Bridge from former Texas Governor Ann Richards; news articles on botched electrocutions; photographs; books, including some written by prisoners and original copies of her two newspapers. 

David Von Drehle Papers (additions):  Von Drehle's notes on Justice Harry Blackmun's papers from the Library of Congress (including copies of actual communications between the Justices) which deal with his death penalty jurisprudence; a transcript of television news coverage during the week leading up to the execution of John Spenkelink in Florida in 1979.  These documents are part of the research material gathered by Von Drehle during his writing of Among the Lowest of the Dead (1995).

Norma Herrera Collection: Norma Herrera is the sister of Leonel Herrera, who the State of Texas executed following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Herrera v. Collins (1993). The Supreme Court considered Leonel Herrera's claim that newly discovered evidence demonstrated that he was innocent of the crime for which he was executed, but the justices rejected the claim and allowed the execution to go forward. Herrera has written a book about the case and her brother's life and death, entitled Last Words from Death Row: The Walls Unit (Nightengale Press 2007). In addition to donating materials to NDPA, Herrera gave a lecture before the School of Criminal Justice, discussing capital punishment and issues of criminal justice, including the execution of her brother Leonel following the 1993 Supreme Court decision.

The University at Albany Library's M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is collaborating with CPRI to maintain and grow the National Death Penalty Archive.

UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice announced the establishment of NDPA, a national repository of archival material devoted solely to the death penalty in August 2005. The National Death Penalty Archive was initiated by the school's Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) to collect archival materials documenting the important history of capital punishment, and to provide resources for historical scholarship. The collection of historical materials will be an unrivaled resource for scholars, students, and the public interested in the history of capital punishment in America, and in the legal and political battles engendered by the sanction. In addition to housing the records and documents of leading figures in scholarship, and legal and community organizations concerning capital punishment, the archive includes oral history interviews featuring prominent activists and professionals involved in death penalty abolition efforts and related work.

The Capital Punishment Research Initiative, part of the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, was founded in the late 1990s with three primary goals: (1) to build and maintain a national archive for historical documents and data on the death penalty; (2) to plan and conduct basic and policy related research on capital punishment; and (3) to encourage scholarship, conduct graduate and undergraduate training, and disseminate scientifically grounded knowledge about the ultimate penal sanction.

The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine schools and colleges, and an honors college. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit theUniversity at Albany. Visit UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts.

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