Texas Abolition Blog


The Supreme Court has again refused to reinstate the death sentence of John Paul Penry. It was Penry’s case that motivated the Supreme Court to address the issue of executing the mentally retarded, eventually barring capital punishment for the mentally retarded. Despite this ruling Texas is still determined to execute Penry and even questions his mental retardation. Governor Perry has not passed legislation to determine a proper procedure for determining mental retardation exceptions in death penalty cases. Instead the state of Texas proceeds like stubborn children, refusing to accept the determination of the Supreme Court and determined to execute at all costs. If this is allowed to continue, more and more cases with mentally retarded defendants will have their sentences overturned and appealed. The death penalty should not be an option in cases with mentally retarded defendants.

In an Associated Press article by Gina Holland, it states, ”After losing the appeal, Texas will likely again ask a jury to sentence Penry to die for the 1979 stabbing death of a 22 year old woman. It will be Penry’s fourth sentencing trial.” How many rulings need to be overturned before Texas accepts that Penry, a mentally retarded man, with the reasoning capacity of a 7 year old needs to not be executed but placed in jail?

Justice and the victim’s family are not being served when rulings are continually being overturned and the cost of this case for Texans skyrockets with each new trial. Why are we pouring money into the capital punishment system instead of the Victim’s Compensation Fund? Why are we pouring money into the death penalty instead of services for the mentally retarded and the mentally ill?

Penry’s victim was the sister of a sports celebrity, would Texas be pursuing this as actively if it was the sister of a poor African American man?

Life in prison is considerably cheaper than the capital punishment process. Society is protected by life in prison, now available as a sentencing option in Texas as of September 2005. The trials and appeals are a very important part of the death penalty process to protect the innocent, but victims are forced to relive the crime every time a new trial and appeal occurs. Protect society, bring closure to victim’s families, and save tax dollars by not pursuing the use of the death penalty. Choose Life in prison.