Background Information

Inmates on Texas Death Row

Gender and Racial Statistics

Citizenship Information

Minimum Age to Receive the Death Penalty: 18 International Law and Juveniles

TDCJ Death Row Home Page

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Death Row Home Page includes all current statistics and information on death row inmates, executed and on death row.
http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/index.html

Inmate Mail

You Can Send:

  • Cards and letters ( not more than 1/4 inch thick).
  • photographs
  • computer printouts
  • newspaper clippings
  • magazine subscriptions

You Cannot Send:

  • Stamps
  • Money (You can send money to the Inmate Trust Fund accompanied by a trust fund slip for such things as stamps.)
  • Books or magazines. ( Newspapers, magazines, and books may be mailed directly to offenders only by the publisher, publication supplier or bookstore.)

Pen Pals:

Pen Pal Requests

Please Note: Letters sent to offenders should include the offender’s name, TDCJ number, and unit/facility address on the envelope. All mail addressed to offenders must be received through authorized channels; letters for different offenders should not be included in the same envelope. There is no limit on the number of persons with whom an offender may correspond.

Men:
TDCJ#
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351

Women:
TDCJ#
Mountain View Unit(DR)
2305 Ransom Road
Gatesville, Texas 76528

Executed Inmates from Texas Death Row

Capital Offenses

Texas Penal Code Section 19.03 Capital Murder

(a) A person commits an offense if he commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1) and:

(1) the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;

(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction or retaliation;

(3) the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;

(4) the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;

(5) the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:

(A) who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or

(B) with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;

(6) the person:

(A) while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Section 19.02, murders another; or

(B) while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Section 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;

(7) the person murders more than one person:

(A) during the same criminal transaction; or

(B) during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct; or

(8) the person murders an individual under six years of age.

(b) An offense under this section is a capital felony.

(c) If the jury or, when authorized by law, the judge does not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of an offense under this section, he may be convicted of murder or of any other lesser included offense.

Added by Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 1123, ch. 426, art. 2, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5317, ch. 977, § 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 44, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 652, § 13, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 715, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 887, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

TITLE 5. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON

CHAPTER 19. CRIMINAL HOMICIDE

§ 19.01. Types of Criminal Homicide

Source: Texas Vernon Statutes

Method of Execution: Lethal Injection

Drugs used in lethal injection by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the addresses of their parent companies:

Sodium Thiopental – Replaced by Pentobarbital on March 16, 2011.  Read More.

Pavulon
Organon Pharmaceuticals
357 Mount Pleasant Avenue
West Orange, NEW JERSEY 07052
President: Hans M. Vemer, MD
800-241-8812, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (EST)
webpage: http://www.organoninc.com/about/index.html

Potassium Chloride
Roxane Laboratories, Inc.
P.O. Box 16532
Columbus, OHIO 43216
Comments Suggestions: 1-800-962-8364
For Customer Service, call 1-800-520-1631
webpage: http://www.roxane.com

Death Row Witnessing Procedures: Victim Services Division

Viewing Executions

Texas has historically allowed 5 close relatives of the offender to view the execution. With that in mind, close relatives of deceased victims petitioned the Texas Board of Criminal Justice for the same opportunity. In January 1996, the Board adopted a rule allowing 5 close relatives of a victim to view the execution of the offender that murdered their loved one.

The Victim Services Division is responsible for screening in victim witnesses and personally prepares, works with, and accompanies the victim witnesses in the execution viewing process. A week or so after the execution, the victim witnesses are contacted in order to determine if they are experiencing any symptoms of trauma

The Victim Witness Preparation Process

The Victim Witness Preparation Process was initiated by the Victim Services Division Assistant Director, Dan Guerra, who felt victim witnesses needed to know about the execution process before witnessing an execution.

The Texas Board of Criminal Justice, at the urging of victims and victim advocacy groups, decided in late 1995 to allow victim witnesses the opportunity to view executions. Linda Kelly and her family from Houston, Texas were the first victim witnesses to view an execution on February 9, 1996. Dan had spoken to her by telephone and sent her a packet of information that could be used as preparatory material.

Later that year, executions were stopped as attorneys challenged a new law that sought to trim the average 9 years it took between conviction and execution. During this lull, it was decided that victim witnesses needed to actually meet in person with a Victim Services division representative to discuss the execution process. By “personalizing” the execution process, the victim witnesses would at least know one person when they arrived in Huntsville, Texas, on the day of the execution. Hopefully, this would diminish some of their anxiety.

With that in mind, victim services staff began making personal visits to the victim witnesses prior to the execution date, to meet and discuss the execution process. If a witness was traveling from out of state, arrangements were made to meet the witness upon their arrival in Huntsville, Texas at which time the execution process was discussed. While the execution preparation meetings are not mandatory, victim witnesses are encouraged to participate. Historically, almost all the victim witnesses have participated.

During the victim witness execution preparation meeting, the rules and regulations that the TDCJ Institutional Division have developed for victim witnesses are discussed. The rules are outlined in a brochure, and range from what victim witnesses should not wear, to what time to arrive, and that tobacco products are not permitted in the Huntsville prison unit where the execution takes place, or in the “support room”. The “support room” is a room where victim witnesses and those accompanying victim witnesses assemble prior to, during, and after the execution.

Also, during the preparation meeting, a video is also shown that discusses the execution process, including the types of drugs administered, a view of the execution chamber, and victim witness room. A packet of newspaper articles covering other executions is provided as well so the victim witnesses can read execution related articles, including some of the statements other victim witnesses have made to the media after viewing an execution. This is also an opportunity for victim witnesses to ask questions and be made aware of scenarios of other executions, so they will have an idea how other executions went, and how it affected victim witnesses.

Initially, victim services representatives were not viewing every execution. They accompanied the victim witnesses only if they requested. By mid 1997, Dan decided the victim services representative that prepared the victim witnesses in viewing the execution should also accompany the victim witnesses in viewing the execution, as the staff member was already dealing with the witnesses before and after the execution. It didn’t make sense to contact the witnesses after the execution to see how they were doing, if victim services staff were not there personally to see how the victim witnesses reacted when viewing the execution. Many victim witnesses have been appreciative that a victim services representative was with them when viewing the execution.

On the day of the execution, the Institutional Division victim liaison, TDCJ’s Emergency Action Center staff, and members of the TDCJ Huntsville Regional Post Trauma Staff Support Team are involved with the victim witnesses while they are awaiting to view the execution. They are in the support room throughout the execution process and the TDCJ victim liaison will also accompany the witnesses in viewing. After the execution, the Post Trauma Support Team members assist in the debriefing of the victim witnesses. This allows the victim witnesses to vent and discuss the viewing in a confidential setting and to discuss post trauma symptoms to look for in the days to come.

Several weeks after viewing the execution, the victim witnesses are individually contacted by a victim services representative and asked if they experienced any emotional or physical problems after viewing the execution. For the most part, the majority that have viewed have expressed no regrets in their decision to view and did not suffer any post trauma symptoms.

Recently, our office decided to go one step further in determining if victim witnesses were suffering any post trauma symptoms. We enlisted the help of the University of Texas at El Paso, Social Work Program, to assist in developing a research instrument to determine if victim witnesses suffered from post trauma symptoms within a year or so of viewing the execution. This project is still in the inception stage, but should be up and running by this summer.

We believe our victim preparation process is one of the best in the nation. We have had other states contact our office asking for information on how we prepare victim witnesses, and we are always willing to oblige. Our program has also been mentioned on Court TV, Dateline NBC, and was a workshop at the National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA), 23rd Annual North American Conference in Houston, Texas in August, 1997.

Last year, Texas had 37 executions, 23 of which had victim witnesses. Some of the families that did not wish to view were contacted by telephone immediately after the execution, if they so desired. We work closely with the Attorney General’s Office crime victim assistance coordinator, who communicates with potential victim witnesses so they will know to contact our office.

Source TDCJ: Victim Services – May 19, 1999

http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/

Hospitality House – Huntsville, Texas

http://www.thehospitalityhouse.org/index.html

National Death Penalty Statistics

Texas Death Row

Men:
Texas Department of Corrections
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TEXAS 77351 Women:
Mountain View Unit (D.R.)
2305 Ransom Road
Gatesville, TEXAS 76528

Average Cost of the Texas Death Penalty

Additional Texas Death Penalty Cost info: Download PDF.TRIAL:
court personnel $ 74,000
jury panel $ 17,220
2 defense attorneys, expert witnesses, investigators $112,400
3 prosecuting attorneys $ 38,052
judge $ 23,968
total $265,640
STATE APPEALS:
defense $15,000
prosecution $29,000
reproducing trial records $20,000
court of criminal appeals$30,240
total $94,240
FEDERAL APPEAL:
defense counsel $ 92,000
state attorney general’s office $ 19,600
appellate court $ 1,708,000
total $ 1,819,600
DEATH ROW INCARCERATION:
1 inmate $ 136,875TOTAL COST: $ 2,316,355 vs Life in Prison: $750,000(source: Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992)

Total Number of Offenders Sentenced to Death from each Texas County

Who Decides Capital Cases? Who Decides the Sentence: The Jury

Jury Selection Statutes are located in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 35 – Formation of the Jury

Life Without Parole in Texas Jun. 17, 2005 Gov. Perry Signs Life Without Parole Bill

Also Signs Bill Changing Death Certificate on Executed Inmates

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 60, which gives juries in capital murder cases the option of sentencing a defendant to life without the possibility of parole.

“I believe this bill will improve our criminal justice system because it gives jurors a new option to protect the public with the certainty a convicted killer will never roam our streets again,” Perry said.

While the life without parole sentence cannot be applied retroactively to those already convicted of capital murder, it will provide victims assurance that in the future, even if appellate courts overturn death sentences, those convicted of the most heinous murders will never be released from prison. The law applies only to those convicted of capital murder on or after Sept. 1, 2005.

Perry also approved another death penalty-related bill, House Bill 93, which will change the terminology used on certificates of death for executed inmates.

“Individuals who commit unspeakable crimes against Texas citizens and are put to death under Texas law are not victims,” Perry said. “They are criminals and the final document that bears their name should reflect this fact.”

House Bill 93 requires the death certificate of an inmate executed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to be classified as death caused by “judicially ordered execution.” Currently, the death certificates list the cause of death as homicide. This bill will take effect Sept. 1, 2005.

Capital Offenses Texas Penal Code Section 19.03 Capital Murder

(a) A person commits an offense if he commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1) and:

(1) the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;

(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction or retaliation;

(3) the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;

(4) the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;

(5) the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:

(A) who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or

(B) with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;

(6) the person:

(A) while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Section 19.02, murders another; or

(B) while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Section 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;

(7) the person murders more than one person:

(A) during the same criminal transaction; or

(B) during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct; or

(8) the person murders an individual under six years of age.

(b) An offense under this section is a capital felony.

(c) If the jury or, when authorized by law, the judge does not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of an offense under this section, he may be convicted of murder or of any other lesser included offense.

Added by Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 1123, ch. 426, art. 2, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5317, ch. 977, § 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 44, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 652, § 13, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 715, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 887, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

TITLE 5. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON
CHAPTER 19. CRIMINAL HOMICIDE
§ 19.01. Types of Criminal Homicide
Source: Texas Vernon Statutes

Clemency Process: Texas Death Row

The Governor has the authority on the advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Governor needs a favorable recommendation from the board in order to be able to grant clemency. The governor is not obligated to follow the recommendation of the Board. The Governor also has the power to grant a thirty day reprieve.

The Governor, with the advice and consent of the Texas Senate, appoints the Board’s members. Members hold office for six-year terms. To be eligible to serve, Board members must be representative of the general public, be resident citizens of Texas, and have resided in Texas for the two years preceding appointment.

The board will consider recommending to the governor a reprieve of execution of death sentence upon receipt of a written application in behalf of a condemned felon. The individual filing such application, if other than the condemned felon, may be required to demonstrate that he is authorized by the condemned felon to file such application. Any such application shall contain the following information:

(1) the name of the applicant, together with any other pertinent identifying information;

(2) identification of the applicant’s agents, if any, who are presenting the application;

(3) certified copies of the indictment, judgment, verdict of the jury, and sentence in the case, including official documentation verifying the scheduled execution date, if said information is not contained in the sentence;

(4) a brief statement of the offense for which the prisoner has been sentenced to death;

(5) a brief statement of the appellate history of the case, including its current status;

(6) a brief statement of the legal issues which have been raised during the judicial progress of the case;

(7) the requested length of duration of the reprieve, which shall be in increments of 30 days that is, 30, 60, 90, etc., unless a different duration is requested upon the basis of the grounds for the application set forth pursuant to paragraph (8) of this section;

(8) all grounds upon the basis of which the reprieve is requested; provided that such grounds shall not call upon the board to decide technical questions of law which are properly presented via the judicial process; and,

(9) a brief statement of the effect of the prisoner’s crime upon the family of the victim.

Source: 8 TexReg 5423.

Procedure in Capital Reprieve Cases

The written application in behalf of a convicted person seeking a board recommendation to the governor of a reprieve from execution must be delivered to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Clemency Section, Austin, Texas, not later than the twenty-first calendar day before the execution is scheduled. If the twenty-first calendar day before the execution is scheduled falls on a weekend or state observed holiday, the application shall be delivered not later than the next business day. Otherwise, the applicant’s recourse will be directly to the governor.

All supplemental information, including but not limited to amendments, addenda, supplements, or exhibits, must be submitted in writing and delivered to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Clemency Section, Austin, Texas, not later than the fifteenth calendar day before the execution is scheduled. If the fifteenth calendar day before the execution is scheduled falls on a weekend or state observed holiday, all additional information including but not limited to amendments, addenda, supplements, or exhibits shall be delivered not later than the next business day.

Any information filed with the application, including but not limited to amendments, addenda, supplements, or exhibits, which require reproduction facilities, equipment, or technology not operated by the board, must be provided by the applicant in an amount sufficient to allow review by all members of the board. An amount sufficient shall mean not less than 10 and not more than 20 copies of the duplicate item.

A convicted person seeking a board recommendation to the governor of a reprieve from execution may request an interview with a member of the board. Such request shall be included in the written application or any supplement filed therewith in accordance with this section.

Upon receipt of a request for an interview, the presiding officer (chair) shall designate at least one member of the board to conduct the requested interview. Such interview shall occur at the confining unit of TDCJ. Attendance at such interviews shall be limited to the convicted person, the designated board member(s), and TDCJ staff. The board may consider statements by the inmate made at such interviews when considering the inmate’s application for reprieve.

The board shall consider and decide applications for reprieve from execution. Upon review, a majority of the board, or a majority thereof, in written and signed form, may:

(1) recommend to the governor a reprieve from execution;

(2) not recommend a reprieve from execution; or

(3) set the matter for a hearing as soon as practicable and at a location convenient to the board and the parties to appear before it.

When the board sets a hearing pursuant to subsection (f)(3) of this section, it shall notify the trial officials of the county of conviction and the attorney general of the State of Texas and allow any such official(s), or the designated representatives thereof, the opportunity to attend the hearing and/or to present any relevant information. At the time of notifying the trial officials, the board shall also notify any representative of the family of the victim (who has previously requested to be notified) of the receipt of the application, the setting of a hearing, and of said representative or family member’s rights to provide any written comments or to attend the hearing.

All hearings conducted by the board under this section shall be in open session pursuant to requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act, Article 6252-17. For the purpose of discussing matters which are deemed confidential by statute, or where otherwise authorized by the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act, the proceedings may be conducted in executive session closed to members of the general public, for that limited purpose. Only those persons whose privacy interests and right to confidentiality may be abridged by discussion involving disclosure of confidential information may be allowed to meet with members of the board in their executive session to discuss that information. No decision, vote, or final action by the board shall be made during a closed meeting; the board’s decision, vote, or final action shall be made and announced in an open meeting. The hearing may be recessed prior to its completion and reconvened pursuant to the directions of the board.

Advocates for and against the death penalty, generally, and members of the general public may present written information for the board’s consideration at its central office headquarters at any reasonable time.

After the conclusion of the hearing, the board shall render its decision, reached by majority vote, within a reasonable time, which decision shall be either to:

(1) recommend to the governor a reprieve from execution;

(2) not recommend a reprieve from execution; or

(3) recess the proceedings without rendering a decision on the merits, if a reprieve has been granted by the governor or if a court of competent jurisdiction has granted a stay of execution.

Each of the provisions of this section and §sect;143.42 of this title (relating to Reprieve Recommended by Board) are subject to waiver by the board when it finds that there exists good and adequate cause to suspend said provisions and adopt a different procedure which it finds to be better suited to the exigencies of the individual case before it.

Successive or repetitious reprieve applications submitted on behalf of the same condemned felon are summarily denied by the board without meeting.

Source Note: Texas Administrative Code, Title 37, Public Safey and Corrections Part 5 – Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Chatper 143 – Executive Clemency, Subchapter D – Reprieve of Execution Rule §sect;143.43. 8 TexReg 5423; amended to be effective October 19, 1984, 9 TexReg 5164; amended to be effective March 17, 1987, 12 TexReg 732; amended to be effective May 11, 1999, 24 TexReg 3538; amended to be effective August 17, 1999, 24 TexReg 6311

Members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

Why is Texas #1 in Executions by Ned Walpin

There are many legal and cultural explanations for why Texas executes far more people than any other state and is doing so at a pace that has no parallel in the modern era of the death penalty in the U.S. What follows is a summary of the analyses.

Link to Frontline Article

Faith Perspectives on the Death Penalty

Denomination – Membership in Millions –  Position on the Death Penalty

Roman Catholic Church 60 Abolitionist

Baptist Church 36 Southern Baptist are retentionist, American Baptist are abolitionist

Methodist Church 13 Abolitionist

Pentecostal Church 10 Mixed

Lutheran Church 8 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is abolitionist, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod is retentionist

Eastern Orthodox 5 Abolitionist

Islam 5 The Qur’an supports the death penalty, but there is a strong tradition of mercy within the faith.

Latter Day Saints 5 Retentionist

Judaism 4 Abolitionist

Presybyterian Church 4 Abolitionist

Episcopal 2 Abolitionist

Reformed Church in America 2 Abolitionist

United Church of Christ 1 Abolitionist

Unitarian Universalist .35 Abolitionist