Texas Execution Machinery Rumbles On

Here’s letter sent to several newspapers by TCADP past President David Atwood:

While executions in other U.S. states and other nations slow down or disappear altogether, Texas seems determined to cement its reputation as the “Death Penalty Capital of the Western World” by rapidly carrying out executions. Already, the state has had 367 executions since the death penalty was resumed in 1982. The next nearest state is Virginia with 95 executions. Texas has had 12 executions to date in 2006 and 13 more are currently scheduled. Virginia has had only one execution this year and North Carolina has had three.

Most executions in recent years have occurred in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The United States is listed primarily because of Texas. There is a trend in the United States and in the world to minimize or do away with the death penalty altogether. Texas is trying hard to buck that trend.

However, Texas would be wise to join the other civilized states and nations that are removing the death penalty from their penal codes. The death penalty gives this state a reputation as an abuser of human rights around the world. It has also been shown that the death penalty is more expensive than life without parole and is unnecessary for the protection of society. Studies of the criminal justice sytem show that it is an imperfect system that can send the wrong people to death row.

Texas would be smarter to spend its scarce financial resources on programs that are truly protective of society – youth and family services, mental health services, rehabilitation programs and anti-gang activities. Then we might see some significant reduction in our crime rates and salvage our reputation around the world.

June 23, 2006

David Atwood
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty