Archive | death sentences

18 December 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Executions Drop to Lowest Number Since 1996, According to New Report by TCADP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 12:01 AM CT

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-552-5948 (cell): 512-441-1808 (office)
khoule@tcadp.org

Texas Executions Drop to Lowest Number Since 1996, According to New Report by TCADP
New death sentences decline nearly 80% since 1999, remain geographically isolated

(Austin, Texas) — The State of Texas put 10 people to death in 2014, the fewest executions in the state since 1996, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review.

“Over the last 15 years, we have witnessed significant change when it comes to use of the death penalty in Texas, mirroring national trends. Texas has gone from a peak of 40 executions in 2000 to the fewest executions in nearly two decades,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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The decline in new death sentences, which more accurately reflects current attitudes towards the death penalty, has been even more precipitous.  In 1999, prosecutors sought and juries imposed 48 new death sentences.  This year, new death sentences in Texas remained near record-low levels, with 11 new death sentences coming from just 8 of the state’s 254 counties.  Prosecutors in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accounted for 4 of the 11 new death sentences imposed by juries this year.

Five counties which represent just 2% of the state’s 254 counties – are responsible for more than 60% of new death sentences in the last five years.

New death sentences remain both geographically isolated and racially biased. Five of the new death row inmates in 2014 are African-American, four are white, and two are Hispanic.  Over the last five years, prosecutors have imposed 60% of all new death sentences on African-Americans.

These disparities are even more pronounced in Harris County, where 15 of the last 18 defendants sentenced to death are African-American and the other 3 are Hispanic.  It has been 10 years since Harris County prosecutors secured a death sentence for a white defendant.

Notably, prosecutors in Dallas County did not pursue the death penalty in any new capital murder trials in 2014.

Texas accounted for less than 30% of U.S. executions, administering the same number of lethal injections as Missouri this year.  Information on national death penalty developments is available in a new report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/YearEnd2014.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities, two Mexican nationals, two women, and two men who were just months past their 18th birthdays at the time of the crime were among those executed by the State of Texas this year.  Rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibit the death penalty for persons with intellectual disabilities and those under age 18 at the time of the crime.

It was the first time since 2002 that Texas executed two women in the same year.  Of the 10 people executed by the State of Texas in 2014, four were Hispanic, four were African-American, and two were white.  Harris (3) and Bexar (2) Counties together accounted for half of the executions in 2014.

Executions involved a compounded form of pentobarbital, supplied by an unidentified pharmacy or pharmacist.  In May, outgoing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reversed the position his office took in three prior opinions in recent years and ruled instead that officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice do not have to disclose information about the drug supplier.  A lawsuit brought by attorneys for death row inmates seeking information about the drug source under the Texas Public Information Act remains pending.

Two contentious executions did not take place as scheduled this year due to last-minute intervention by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:

  • On May 13, 2014, the day of Robert Campbell’s scheduled execution, the Fifth Circuit granted a stay in order to consider newly discovered evidence of his mental impairment. To date, no court has considered evidence of Campbell’s intellectual disabilities, which bars his execution under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia (2002).
  • On December 3, 2014, less than eight hours before his scheduled execution, the Fifth Circuit granted a stay to Scott Panetti to consider the “complex legal questions” surrounding his case, specifically, his competency to be executed.  Panetti, whose competency has not been evaluated in seven years, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has a fixed delusion that Satan, working through the state, is trying to kill him for preaching the Gospel.

A total of seven inmates received reprieves this year, including stays granted by the courts and the withdrawal of execution dates.

“The cases of individuals scheduled for execution this year illustrate deep flaws that undermine the fairness and accuracy of our state’s capital punishment system,” said Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service.  “Texas legislators must address these issues when they convene in January.”

Other highlights of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review:

  • On October 8, 2014, Manuel Velez was released from prison in Huntsville after spending nine years in prison, including four years on death row. One year earlier, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his capital murder conviction in the 2008 death of one-year-old Angel Gabriel Moreno in Cameron County. The court agreed with a state district judge’s assessment that Velez’s defense attorneys failed to present critical medical evidence that substantiated his claim of innocence. Since 2011, at least 17 individuals have been removed from death row in Texas after receiving reduced sentences.
  • Death-qualified juries rejected the death penalty in the sentencing phase in two capital trials this year.  In both cases, juries determined that mitigating evidence warranted a sentence other than death.  Over the last five years, death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in at least 14 capital murder trials.
  • Texas has executed a total of 518 people since 1982; of these, 279 – or 54% – occurred during the administration of outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001-2014), more than any other governor in U.S. history.

“Attitudes toward the death penalty are shifting as public confidence in the criminal justice system erodes,” said Kristin Houlé.  “At this critical moment in our state’s experience with the death penalty, concerned citizens and elected officials should take a close look at the realities of this irreversible, arbitrary, and costly punishment and consider alternative ways of achieving justice.”

TCADP is a statewide, grassroots advocacy organization based in Austin.

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Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review is available online.  Contact report author Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.  See the report for additional charts illustrating trends related to executions and death sentences in Texas.

The following individuals are available for further comment on the topics raised by these year-end statistics:

  • Kristin Houlé, Executive Director, TCADP: 512-552-5948 (cell) or 512-441-1808 (office)
  • Kathryn M. Kase, Executive Director, Texas Defender Service: 713-222-7788 (office)

The Death Penalty Information Center’s report on national developments is available at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/YearEnd2014.

 

 

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03 March 2014 ~ Comments Off

TCADP March 2014 Alert: Spring into Action

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
Featured Events
TCADP 2014 Conference
In the News
Do you shop with Amazon?
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions this month:

  • On March 19, 2014, Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death. Jasper, a rapper who was 19 at the time of the crime, was convicted of murdering local studio owner David Alejandro and stealing his recording equipment in Bexar County in November 1998. His two co-defendants received life sentences.
  • On March 27, 2014, Anthony Doyle is scheduled to be executed for killing and robbing 47-year-old Hyun Cho, who was delivering a food order Doyle had placed to his parent’s home in Rowlett (Dallas County) in 2003. Doyle was 18 at the time of the crime.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Death Penalty Developments
Texas has executed two people to date in 2014, out of ten nationwide. To date this year, there have been two new death sentences and one jury rejection:

  • On February 20, 2014, a Harris County jury sentenced George Curry to death for the slaying of 19-year-old Edward Virappen during a robbery at a Popeye’s Chicken in May 2009.
  • Brandon Daniel was sentenced to death in Travis County on February 28, 2014 for the murder of Austin Police Office Jaime Pedron in 2012. According to the Austin American-Statesman, jurors spent more than eight hours deliberating on the punishment for Daniel. This was the first new death sentence in Travis County since 2011.
  • On February 5, 2014, an El Paso County jury rejected the death penalty for Christian Martinez after finding him guilty of capital murder in the 2011 deaths of Amalia Flores, 58, and her daughter Jovana Flores, 20. Ten of the twelve jurors agreed that mitigating evidence warranted a sentence other than death.

Featured Events
Robert Redford’s “Death Row Stories” to Premiere on CNN
“Death Row Stories” is a new 8-part series premiering on March 9 on CNN that will examine actual death penalty cases. The show is produced by Robert Redford and narrated by Dead Man Walking star Susan Sarandon. Redford said, “This series is about the search for justice and truth, we are pleased to … tell these important stories and give a voice to these cases.” Prior to the premiere, CNN is offering interested parties an opportunity for a preview and the ability to participate in a Google Hangout featuring a discussion by the producers and law professors John Blume of Cornell and Robert Blecker of New York Law School. The Google Hangout will be held March 5 at 6 pm EST and is open to the public, but an RSVP is required. A promo for the show can be found here.  (CNN, “Death Row Stories,” Press materials; DPIC posted Feb. 21, 2014).

Help TCADP Amplify Austin!

amplify austin logoAmplify Austin is a community-wide day of online philanthropy sponsored by “I Live Here, I Give Here”, with the goal of raising $4 million in 24 hours for Austin-based participating nonprofits, including TCADP!

Last year we raised more than $5,000 through this campaign! 
Beginning at 6pm on March 20th, through 6pm on March 21st, TCADP is asking all of our supporters (not just those living in Austin) to increase their giving or give for the first time at the $25 level or above.  During the 24-hour giving period, you can give at https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/overview.

Help us defend our title as the 1:00-2:00pm champions.  Last year, TCADP won a $1,000 bonus prize for having the most donors during the 1:00-2:00pm giving hour.  Let’s repeat in 2014!

Please concentrate your giving on Friday, March 21 – 1:00 to 2:00pm Central Standard Time!

You might even think about giving Friday, March 21, at:

1:12 PM for the 12 people exonerated from Texas death row
1:19 PM for the 119 Texas counties that have never sent anyone to death row
1:39 PM for the 139 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice
1:43 PM for the 143 death row exonerations nationwide
1:50 PM for the 150 supporters who recently attended the TCADP conference

Can’t make it during that hour? No problem, just give during the 24-hour cycle of Thursday, March 20, 6:00pm to Friday, March 21, 6:00pm to make us eligible for more cash perks!  Learn more

Ways you can help TCADP Amplify Austin and fight Slacktivism!

  • Set an alarm on your phone, google calendar, Ical, Outlook, etc. for Friday, March 21 at 1:00pm and then go to https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/ and give a minimum of $25.
  • Set up a special fundraising page for TCADP and seek support from your friends and family.   Do it here.
  • Sample Tweet – Who loves @TCADPdotORG and ending the #deathpenalty? Help TCADP #AmplifyATX 3/21 1:00-2:00pm! http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf
  • Sample Facebook – I’m ready to end the #deathpenalty! Are you? Check out #AmplifyATX and ways you can help TCADP! http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf

TCADP 2014 Annual Conference:  “Lighting the Way”
Our 2014 Annual Conference, which took place on Saturday, February 22 at University Christian Church in Fort Worth, included a record number of attendees, who all seemed to have great take aways from their day.  Videos of the keynote address and awards ceremony are available on the TCADP YouTube Channel.  Check out the photos!  See a compilation of the social media posts from the Conference – sfy.co/bbDe.

A tremendous thank you to the staff at University Christian Church and all the speakers, sponsors, and TCADP members and volunteers who made the conference possible.  Read more about them and everything that occurred at the conference in the programSave the date: TCADP 2015 Annual Conference, February 21, 2015 in Austin,Texas!

In the News
We recently noted the fact that 10 years have passed since Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by the State of Texas, despite strong evidence of his innocence and serious doubts as to whether the fire that took the lives of his three young daughters was caused by arson. Last week, the Innocence Project filed new documents with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in its petition for a posthumous pardon for Willingham. The documents point to new evidence that strongly suggests that jailhouse informant Johnny Webb received a deal from Navarro County District Attorney John Jackson in exchange for his testimony against Willingham at trial.

According to the Innocence Project, “This new evidence also strongly suggests that Jackson, who had since become a district court judge, deceived the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Navarro County District Attorney’s Office about the existence of a deal, which had they known about, would have almost certainly spared Willingham’s life.”   Read more about this latest development in the New York Times and Houston Chronicle. If you haven’t done so already, sign this petition calling on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to investigate Willingham’s case.

Fundraising Opportunity: Amazon.com Supports TCADP!amazon
If you enjoy shopping on Amazon, please consider sharing some of your purchase power with TCADP.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.

Please note:  You must log into your account through amazonsmile.com for your purchases to benefit TCADP.

Just click the box and connect your AmazonSmile account with TCADP!

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities
March
4 Primary Election Day: Please Vote!

18 Dallas TCADP meeting, Cathedral of Hope in room CLC 196 at 6:30pm.

19 Scheduled Execution – Ray Jasper, 6:00pm

20-21 Amplify Austin – Concentrate your giving Friday, March 21 from 1:00 to 2:00pm if possible. https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP

22 TCADP Information Table at the Travis County Democratic Party Convention.  Contact info@tcadp.org to volunteer.

25 El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty meeting 7:00pm in the Mother Teresa Room of St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N. Clark Street, El Paso.  All are welcome!  elpaso@tcadp.org

26 TCADP Lunch discussion, Austin 12:00-1:00pm.  Details TBD – Stay Tuned!

26 Collin County meeting 7pm at Suncreek UMC, Allen. Meeting will include watching an episode of Robert Redford’s new series on CNN – “Death Row Stories.” collincounty@tcadp.org

26-27 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé will visit Beaumont to speak with students at Lamar University and local members.

27 University of Houston NAACP Death Penalty Panel Discussion, H Fred J Heyne Room 43, 6:00-8:00pm. Featuring TCADP Board Members Angelle Adams and Pat Monks among other invited guests.

27 Scheduled Execution – Anthony Doyle, 6:00pm

April

4-6 TCADP information table at the Texas Junior State of America convention, Houston

12 Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty information table at Young Americans for Liberty Texas Convention, Texas State University 9:00-7:00pm.  *Conservative Volunteers needed to assist with table, please contact info@tcadp.org.

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18 November 2013 ~ Comments Off

New Dallas County Death Sentence – Third for Dallas

A Dallas County jury has convicted and sentenced Franklin Davis for the murder of 16 year old, Shania Gray.  Gray was the babysitter of Davis’ children and had accused him of rape.

Read more about the case from the Dallas Morning News.

This is the third death sentence in Dallas County this year, but the eleventh for Dallas County since 2008.  It is the eighth new death sentence statewide in 2013.

Dallas County leads the state in the imposition of new death sentences over the last five years.  Of the eleven men sentenced to death in Dallas County in this time period, eight are African American and two are Hispanic.

Read more about recent sentencing trends by county and view TCADP’s maps of death sentences and executions by county between 1976 and 2012 and 2008 and 2012.

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24 July 2013 ~ Comments Off

New Death Sentence Imposed in Harris County

On Friday, July  19, 2013, the jury in the capital murder trial of Obel Cruz-Garcia determined that he should be put to death for kidnapping and killing six-year old Angelo Garcia, Jr., in 1992.  Read more about the case in the Houston Chronicle.

This is the first new death sentence out of Harris County since 2011. While Dallas County leads the state in new death sentences in the past five years (8), Harris County and Tarrant County are close behind (6). Cruz-Garcia will be the 100th person convicted in Harris County currently awaiting execution on death row.  Since 1982, 118 people convicted in Harris County have been put to death.

The last death sentence imposed on a white defendant in Harris County occurred in November 2004, when serial killer Anthony Shore was sent to death row.  Since then, juries in the county have imposed death sentences on 12 African American defendants and 2 Hispanic defendants, including Obel Cruz-Garcia.  Read more about the death penalty in Texas, including troubling statistics about the racial disparities in sentencing, in our 2012 Annual Report, which includes a map of death sentences by county.

This is the sixth new sentence in Texas to date in 2013.  Juries sentenced nine men to death in 2012.

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08 May 2013 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas Executes Carroll Parr; Galveston County Jury Imposes First New Death Sentence in 2013

On May 7, 2013, the State of Texas put Carroll Parr to death for the 2003 drug-related robbery and killing of Joel Dominguez in Waco.  It was the fifth execution to take place in Texas this year.  Read an account from the Associated Press.

Earlier in the day, a Galveston County jury sentenced Bartholomew Granger to death for the murder of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in 2012.  According to the Associated Press, “Granger, 42, showed no remorse as he admitted opening fire on his daughter and running her over with his truck because she had testified against him in a sexual assault case, but he insisted he didn’t kill Sebolt. His daughter and her mother were among three women wounded in the attack.”  The trial was moved to Galveston so that jurors did not have to walk by the crime scene every day.

Read more about this case from the Beaumont Enterprise.

This is the first new death sentence imposed in Texas in 2013.  In 2012, Texas juries sentenced nine people to death.    View death sentences by county at http://tcadp.org/1976-2012-county-map/.

 

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18 December 2012 ~ Comments Off

Year-end report from DPIC shows “capital punishment is becoming marginalized and meaningless in most of the country”

Today, December 18, 2012, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) released its year-end report, The Death Penalty in 2012.  According to the report, the number of new death sentences in 2012 was the second lowest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.  Several states, including North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, did not impose any new death sentences this year.

For the second year in a row, 43 executions took place in the United States – just four states (Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Arizona) accounted for more than 75% of executions in 2012.

The report notes that for the eighth consecutive year, Texas executed more inmates than it sentenced to death, “foreshadowing a decline in executions in the future.”   Texas carried out 15 executions this year; nine individuals were sentenced to death.

Read the press release from DPIC.

Read the full report.

Read coverage by CNN, which also features a video clip of  Joel Osteen, Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, discussing his views on the death penalty.

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12 December 2012 ~ Comments Off

TCADP Report: Use of Death Penalty Geographically Isolated, Arbitrarily Imposed in Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-441-1808 (office); 512-552-5948 (cell)
khoule@tcadp.org

Use of Death Penalty Geographically Isolated, Arbitrarily Imposed in Texas,
According to New Report by TCADP

Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex led state in pursuit of the death penalty in 2012

(Austin, Texas) — More than half of all new death sentences were imposed in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex this year, while no new death sentences were imposed in Harris County for the third time in five years, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review.

New death sentences in Texas have declined more than 75% since 2002 and remain near historic low levels in 2012.  To date this year, juries have condemned nine new individuals to death in Texas, a slight increase over 2011 and 2010, when new death sentences fell to their lowest number since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas’ revised death penalty statute in 1976.  The verdict in a capital murder trial in Brazos County, in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, has been delayed indefinitely pending a legal dispute over jury instructions.

Tarrant and Dallas Counties each accounted for two new death sentences and Johnson County accounted for one.  Dallas County now leads the state in new death sentences since 2008, accounting for nearly 20% of sentences imposed in the last five years.  Dallas County also led the state in executions, accounting for 5 of the 15 executions carried out this year.

“While most of Texas is moving away from the death penalty, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was a major outlier both in new death sentences and executions this year,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  “2012 exemplified the arbitrariness that pervades the death penalty system in Texas.  Not only does it remain geographically isolated to just a few jurisdictions statewide, but it continues to be applied in a haphazard and unfair way, particularly when it comes to individuals with intellectual disabilities or severe mental illness and people of color.”

Seven of the new death row inmates in 2012 are African-American, one is Hispanic, and one is a white female.  Over the last five years, nearly 75% of death sentences in Texas have been imposed on people of color – 46% African-American and 28% Hispanic.  In Dallas County, this pattern is even more pronounced – of the eight men sentenced to death there since 2008, five are African-American and two are Hispanic.

Of the 15 men executed in Texas this year, seven were African-American, four were Hispanic, and four were white.

“Although Texas is using the death penalty less, the state still uses it disproportionately on people of color,” said Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service.  “This is a recurring problem and Texas’ failure to fix it demonstrates how broken its capital punishment system is.”

Troubling questions also persist regarding the arbitrary determination of who receives the ultimate punishment.  Cases involving individuals with comparable backgrounds or who presented similar legal arguments received vastly different treatment by the criminal justice system this year.

As one example of this arbitrariness, several death row inmates with diagnosed severe mental illnesses were scheduled for execution this year.  The executions of Steven Staley and Marcus Druery were halted pending unresolved issues related to their mental competency, while the execution of Jonathan Green, who reportedly suffered from schizophrenia, proceeded on October 10, 2012 after significant legal wrangling.

This disparate treatment was also evident in terms of issues related to intellectual disabilities.

Two inmates with recognized intellectual disabilities received reduced sentences and were removed from death row this year: Roosevelt Smith, convicted in 2007, and Anthony Pierce, who spent more than three decades on death row.  On the other hand, Marvin Wilson was executed on August 7, 2012 despite being diagnosed with an IQ of 61, well below the threshold of 70 for mental impairment.  His case created an international uproar and starkly illustrated the woefully inadequate and unscientific standards used by the State of Texas to determine which defendants with intellectual disabilities are protected from execution.

Other highlights of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review:

  • The State of Texas accounted for more than a third of U.S. executions this year, a smaller percentage than in the past but nearly three times as many as any other state.  Texas has executed a total of 492 people since 1982 – 253 executions have occurred during the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001 – present), more than any other governor in U.S. history.
  • Six inmates scheduled for execution in 2012 received reprieves.  In addition, three execution dates were withdrawn.
  • Death-qualified juries rejected the death penalty in the sentencing phase in four trials this year and instead opted for life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In all four cases, the jury determined that the defendant did not pose a future danger.  Over the last five years, death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in at least 20 capital murder trials.
  • According to research by TCADP, the Texas death row population stands at its lowest level since 1989.  As of November 16, 2012, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice counted 289 death row inmates, which includes 10 women.

“Attitudes toward the death penalty are shifting as public confidence in the ultimate punishment continues to erode,” said Houlé.  “As we approach the start of the 83rd Texas Legislature, TCADP urges concerned citizens and elected officials to confront the realities of this irreversible punishment and reconsider the efficacy and cost of the death penalty as a means of achieving justice.”

TCADP is a statewide, grassroots advocacy organization based in Austin.

Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review is available online at www.tcadp.org/TexasDeathPenaltyDevelopments2012.pdf.  Contact report author Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.  See the report for tables illustrating Texas’ highest-use counties from 2008-2012, the race of defendants sentenced to death in the last five years, and additional graphs depicting recent trends.

See http://tcadp.org/2008-2012-new-death-sentences/ for a map of new death sentences by county from 2008 to 2012.

See http://tcadp.org/1976-2012-county-map/ for a map of death sentences by county from 1976 to 2012.

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07 December 2012 ~ Comments Off

Thirty Years Ago Today…

Thirty years ago today, December 7, 1982, the State of Texas officially resumed executions, putting Charlie Brooks to death for the 1976 murder of David Gregory.  That was also the nation’s first execution by lethal injection, a new method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.

Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as the chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, spent all day with Charlie Brooks and stood at the foot of the gurney as he was executed.  In his memoir, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, he writes about the immediate aftermath of the execution:  “All that remained was an air of stunned silence – testimony to the fact that none of those who had witnessed penal history being made had really been prepared for what they had seen.”

Since 1982, the State of Texas has executed 492 people; 253 of these executions have occurred during the administration of Governor Rick Perry, more than any other governor in U.S. history.  This year, the State of Texas carried out 15 executions, a slight increase over last year and nearly three times as many as any other state in the country.

Yet Texas – along with the rest of the nation – is moving away from the death penalty.  New death sentences remain near record-low levels, and death-qualified juries have rejected this punishment in at least 18 trials in the past five years.

Use of the death penalty has been relegated to just a few jurisdictions statewide; in fact, only 11 counties in the entire state of Texas imposed new death sentences in the last two years.  These trends and other developments in 2012 appear in TCADP’s year-end report, scheduled to be released next week.

With your support, TCADP is educating Texans about the fatal flaws of our state’s death penalty system and equipping our members to serve as powerful citizen advocates for abolition.  Together, we are hastening the day that we mark the anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

Thank you for your support and steadfast commitment to this issue.

p.s. We had the pleasure of meeting Charlie’s son Keith in Dallas on Tuesday. Keith’s family is holding a memorial service today in Fort Worth for Charlie Brooks. The memorial will be held from 12 to 3:00 p.m. at the Riverside Community Center, 3700 Belknap Street, Fort Worth. The program will include lunch and reflections. Everyone is welcome.

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