This week, the Houston Chronicle affirmed its call for the abolition of the death penalty in an editorial focused on the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna (“Death penalty perils,” May 24, 2012). Here are excerpts:
We have noted before, as have other observers, that the death penalty in Texas is all too often plagued by errors and failings, and defendants, whether guilty or innocent, have most likely been executed on the strength of faulty evidence. We concluded therefore that rather than risk executing an innocent person, we should abolish the death penalty.
Last week, we were confronted by compelling evidence that in all likelihood, the unthinkable had happened and the state of Texas had indeed executed an innocent man: Carlos DeLuna, put to death in 1989 for the stabbing death of Wanda Lopez at a Corpus Christi convenience store.
The editorial ends with this call for Texas to follow the lead of other states in repealing the death penalty:
Texas has made significant changes in the past few years, one of them being the adoption of a life without parole sentencing option in capital cases. This in itself takes away a major incentive for the death sentence. But the fact is, we can never rule out human failings and errors. We need to follow the example of a growing number of states and repeal our death penalty law. Its risks far outweigh its benefits.
Also, watch this wonderful PBS NewsHour piece on the DeLuna case, which includes an interview with Columbia University Law Professor Jim Liebman: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june12/deathpenalty_05-24.html