The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Carl Wayne Buntion, who just turned 78 and has spent more than 30 years on death row, on April 21, 2022. Buntion was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991 for killing Houston Police Officer James Irby. Eighteen years later, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new punishment trial after determining that the jury in his 1991 trial was not able to fully consider mitigating evidence. In 2012, another Harris County jury re-sentenced Buntion to death.
If he is executed, Buntion will be the oldest person put to death by the State of Texas. While there is no question about his guilt, there should be significant apprehension about the spectacle of executing a frail, elderly man who requires specialized care, including the use of a wheelchair, to perform basic functions. Such an execution embodies the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment.
It also is deeply troubling that Buntion’s long tenure on death row does not support the finding of future dangerousness, which is required for a jury to impose the death penalty in Texas. Over the last three decades, he has been cited for only three disciplinary infractions, only one of which was for a violent offense (a fistfight with another inmate) in 1999. That was the last incident for which Buntion was cited.
Buntion has requested that his spiritual advisor be allowed to pray aloud with him and offer physical comfort in the execution chamber. Although the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) denied that request, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on March 24, 2022 in the case of Ramirez v. Collier that such expressions of religious belief should be permitted. To date, TDCJ has not explained how it will accommodate Buntion’s request.
Buntion has filed an application for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Greg Abbott in which he asks for the commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty or a 90-day reprieve so that his attorneys can pursue litigation related to his request for his spiritual advisor to pray aloud with him and offer physical comfort in the execution chamber.
Support clemency for Carl Wayne Buntion
Email the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by Monday, April 18, 2022 to urge clemency or at least a reprieve for Carl Wayne Buntion. Include his TDCJ #993 and DOB 03/30/1944 in your appeals. Share your concerns with Governor Greg Abbott. Adapt the sample message or use the talking points to craft your own note. Contact information for the Board and Governor is below.
Key talking points
- It would be a gross spectacle for the State of Texas to execute Carl Wayne Buntion, a 78-year-old man with serious physical impairments who has spent more than 30 years on death row without posing a threat to anyone.
- Contrary to jurors’ finding of “future dangerousness,” Buntion has never been dangerous in prison and is now physically incapable of being dangerous. It would be a miscarriage of justice for him to be executed. He should be allowed to live the rest of his days in prison.
- At the very least, the Board should recommend that the Governor grant a 90-day reprieve so that Buntion can pursue his request for his spiritual advisor to pray aloud with him and offer physical comfort in the execution chamber, rights that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld recently in another case involving an individual on death row in Texas.
Sample email message
Dear Chairman Gutiérrez and Members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles,
I am writing to urge you to recommend clemency – or at least a 90-day reprieve – to Carl Wayne Buntion (TDCJ #993 and DOB 03/30/1944), who is scheduled to be executed on April 21, 2022. At the age of 78, Buntion is the oldest person to face execution by the State of Texas. He suffers from numerous health issues and requires specialized care, including the use of a wheelchair, to perform basic functions.
It would be a gross spectacle for the State of Texas to execute a frail, elderly man who has spent more than thirty years on death row without posing a threat to anyone. Buntion has not been the “future danger” predicted by the juries that sentenced him to death. During his lengthy incarceration, he has been cited for only three disciplinary infractions, the last of which was for a fistfight with another inmate in 1999.
The execution of Carl Wayne Buntion would be a serious violation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. I implore you to recommend that Governor Abbott commute his death sentence and allow Buntion to live his remaining days in prison.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Contact information for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757
Fax (512) 467-0945
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Information and Referral Hotline: (800) 843-5789 [for Texas callers]
Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782 [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]
Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: 512-463-2000
Online Contact: https://gov.texas.gov/contact/