Report: Dallas County Issues State's Highest Rate Of Death Sentences
by: Pat Hernandez, December 30, 2013 2:12:00 pm
According to the Coalition's report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review, Dallas County emerged as the state's most active death penalty jurisdiction, and accounted for 20% of new death sentences since 2008. One group believes capital punishment in Texas may have run its course because it violates the right to life and:
"Concerned about the way that the death penalty is administered, and view it as an inherently flawed and unfair government system."
Kristin Houle' is executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
"We have a real variety of approaches better, united by a belief that Texas doesn't need the death penalty, that in fact we have alternative ways to punish people who are truly guilty of committing heinous crimes, and protect society without resorting to an irreversible and flawed punishment like the death penalty."
There was a time when the sentiment of Texas' criminal justice system was akin to "an eye for an eye", when it came to brutal murders. Houle' says that's not the case anymore.
"We work with many family members who do not support the death penalty for a variety of reasons. Some of them believe that killing another person won't honor their loved one. Others are concerned with the process and the toll that it takes, as these cases drag themselves through the appeals process."
The report finds that while Texas uses the death penalty less, the state still imposes it disproportionately against minorities.
Professor David Dow of the UH Law Center, is founder of the Texas Innocence Network, and runs a death penalty clinic. He too believes that capital punishment is yesteryear's justice.
"I think that the far more likely way, is that individual district attorneys will decide not to seek the death penalty very often, but it will be a punishment that is used with less and less frequency until finally it's just not used at all."
But longtime death penalty advocate Dudley Sharp doesn't agree.
"No one has emotional or psychological closure from execution. But what you do have, you have a sense that justice has been done, and very important to most of these victim survivors, is that this person can no longer harm anyone again."
Some think that stories of inmates wrongly imprisoned like Michael Morton and Anthony Graves could make jurors much more careful about imposing the death penalty.