“Whatever the reason for the decline in the number of executions in Texas, it is welcome news,” according to the Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board. In an editorial published today, December 20, 2011, “Texas juries choosing life without parole,” the Board cites the decline in executions and death sentences as reported by TCADP last week. The editorial cites the recent exoneration of Michael Morton in Williamson County – and other high-profile exonerations – as one possible reason for the decline in death sentences, as public faith in the reliability and fairness of the criminal justice system continues to erode:
Yes, the system — or rather the people who run the system — that failed in that case has failed in others and will fail in future cases because people make mistakes. While a death sentence can be appealed, it can’t be reversed once carried out.
The editorial goes on to chronicle the Texas Legislature’s 1995 passage of the bill that created life without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option in capital cases, noting that “[this] opened an option for Texas juries that had long been denied — and they are using it.”
Read TCADP’s report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011: The Year in Review.