Death Row Exoneree Shujaa Graham to speak in Tucson


    Death row exoneree Shujaa Graham to speak in Tucson

    Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona is bringing Shujaa Graham, the nation’s 20th man exonerated from death row, to Tucson on Feb. 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 3201 E. Presidio Road. The event, Shujaa Graham: Life After Death Row, is open to the public with donations accepted.

    In 1973, Graham was framed for the murder of a prison guard and sent to San Quentin’s infamous death row. While the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 1979, it wasn’t until 1981 that he was found innocent and released. Graham lectures on the death penalty, criminal justice system, racism and gang violence to audiences around the world and is active in efforts to abolish capital punishment. For more information, call (602) 357-4848 or visit

    Pre-event coverage as well as coverage of this event is welcome. To arrange media coverage or interviews, please contact Dan Peitzmeyer, interim executive director of Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona, at (602) 357-4848 or

    Suggested links for more information on Shujaa Graham:


    What: Shujaa Graham: Life After Death Row

    Where: St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 3201 E. Presidio Road

    When: Friday, Feb. 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

    How much: Donations accepted

    More information: (602) 357-4848 or visit

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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


    1. About 50 people at this talk, sponsored by AZ Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona. Dan Peitzmeyer, Interim E.D. welcomed everyone, wearing an “Execute Justice Not People” tshirt. Shujaa spoke of growing up in Louisiana, then moving to California, joining a gang, being in juvenile detention before age 18, and receiving death penalty by age 21/22. He spoke of the “worst day of your life”, followed by another one, being on death row, till Supreme Ct of California overturned his conviction because there had been systematic discrimination in California of keeping African Americans off juries. He said he had 4 trials in his life, but I was unclear why. He also quoted MLK about love, and asked what was the difference between a murderer and a state that murdered, and created more victims, by seeking revenge. 31 states have the death penalty per handout. Questions were about why he belonged to a gang; how can someone be “too dark skinned”; did the Holy Spirit move him; did he visit others on Death Row; any associations with gangs now; and has he received any treatment for PTSD? Former PCC Governing Bd. member Marty Cortez in audience.

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