Don’t forget Hank Skinner ! – Interview with Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner
4 April 2019
On April 4, Hank Skinner turned 57. He spent the last 24 years on Texas death row for a crime he didn't commit.
Death row is a lonely and desperate place, a "hell" as Hank calls it. On death row since 1995 and in solitary confinement since June 1999, the mail is a source of hope and tremendous strength for him. On the occasion of his birthday, but also to support him in his daily life, we encourage you to write him a short note. Thank you for him.
Below is an interview with his wife, Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner, who reviews the current situation and the battles that remain to be fought.
Interview with Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner, wife of Hank Skinner
Sandrine, you visited your husband on his birthday: how is he?
He is like someone who was arrested over 25 years ago and has been on death row for over 24 years for a crime he did not commit. He fights and never gives up, I find him incredibly combative, and his life force still amazes me as much as ever.
Of course, survival on death row is exhausting, especially since his serious health problems in 2013.
It is essential for him to maintain a balanced diet, which is obviously not the concern of the prison administration. After a rather calm period, unfortunately since the arrival of a new warden at the prison, the daily routine is once again unnecessarily complicated and exhausting, which makes the fight all the more tiring and stressful.
I would say that he is doing quite well under the circumstances, although this year he has seen several of his friends executed and this is the most difficult trauma for him to deal with. The challenge is a daily one, we have faced it together for more than twenty years, and we will not give up anything in the face of the injustice he suffers or regarding the death penalty.
What are the next steps in your struggle to free Hank?
For about a year, his case and life have been in the hands of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - the highest criminal court in the state - which should "normally" rule within the next six months.
Hank works very regularly with his lawyers to prepare the next step, should this appeal be dismissed. Legal options are now very limited, and new case law must be studied to identify and use the weaknesses of a very dysfunctional system.
The wait is long, tedious and the outcome remains uncertain.
We will soon launch a new fundraising campaign because we must hire three experts. Having to fund justice to get the truth out is an additional source of stress that worries him particularly.
How is the situation in Texas evolving compared to other retentionist states in the country?
The situation in Texas is still as unpredictable as ever, even if positive signs have appeared in recent years, the political involvement of the legal system still raises fears of the worst.
2019 is the year of the the primary elections, and everything remains suspended until elections for judges and state prosecutors are held.
In addition, the federal jurisdiction remains trapped in the clutches of the President of the United States, who appoints federal judges (appointed for life). It has already filled more than 65 vacant seats, while his predecessor had not been able to do, as his appointments were systematically blocked and rejected by Congress.
It should be noted that attitudes are changing, that the work of local media highlights the reality of the legal system and that the new generation of prosecutors seems to be opening a new path.
A real educational work remains to be done, it is a long-term commitment that will bear fruit.
It is already increasingly difficult in Texas to form a jury because potential jurors are increasingly reluctant to agree to vote for a death sentence given the number of innocent and released death row prisoners in the United States, they are now 165.