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.

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.

Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351

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.



§ 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

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

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

Hospitality House – Huntsville, Texas

National Death Penalty Statistics

Texas Death Row

Texas Department of Corrections
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TEXAS 77351
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.
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
defense $15,000
prosecution $29,000
reproducing trial records $20,000
court of criminal appeals$30,240
total $94,240
defense counsel $ 92,000
state attorney general’s office $ 19,600
appellate court $ 1,708,000
total $ 1,819,600
1 inmate $ 136,875
TOTAL 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

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.