Is there hope for Texas? We’ll see…
Even in Texas they are having their doubts. The state that executes more people than any other by far – it will account for half the prisoners sent to the death chamber in the US this year – is seeing its once rock-solid faith in capital punishment shaken by overturned convictions, judicial scandals and growing evidence that at least one innocent man has been executed.
The growth of DNA forensic evidence has seen nearly 140 death row convictions overturned across the US, prompting abolition and moratoriums in other states that Texas has so far resisted.
But the public mood is swinging in the conservative state, which often seems to have an Old Testament view of justice. A former governor, Mark White – previously a strong supporter of the death penalty – has joined those calling for a reconsideration of capital punishment because of the risk of executing an innocent person.
The number of death sentences passed by juries in Texas has fallen sharply in recent years, reflecting a retreat from capital punishment in many parts of America after DNA evidence led to the release of scores of condemned prisoners.
The number of death sentences passed annually in the US has dropped by about 60% in the past decade, to around 100.
“In Texas we have seen a constant stream of individual cases that really destroy public faith and integrity in our criminal justice system,” said Steve Hall, former chief of staff to the Texas attorney general for eight years, who is now an anti-death penalty activist.
[Click to continue reading Texas accounts for half of executions in US – but now has doubts over death row | World news | The Guardian ]
The vocal and partisan Christian Taliban minority in Texas has given the state a bad name, but perhaps they might come to their senses, in our lifetimes. How can killing an innocent man be reconciled with their god’s commandments? It cannot, so either the Christian Taliban has to give up their doctrine, or change their government’s behavior in in their name. Rick Perry would rather kill a few innocents than admit he might be wrong, will he remain governor?
In Dallas county alone, 24 people have been exonerated and the new district attorney has created a conviction integrity unit to examine other suspected miscarriages of justice.
Recent attention has focused on a high profile case which may become the first officially acknowledged miscarriage of justice which led to a man being executed.
The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has been accused of gerrymandering a commission examining the evidence against Cameron Todd Willingham who was executed in 2004 for the murder of his three young daughters in an arson attack on his home. Perry abruptly replaced the chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission as it was about to hold hearings into a report by its own expert, who described the conviction as based on “junk science”. The new chairman called off the hearing.