Supreme Court Stays Execution

A Rice University Sociologist thinks the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention in a Texas death penalty case, and two similar cases from Kentucky, is just one more step in the direction of outlawing capital punishment altogether. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Carlton Turner Junior two days after it accepted two similar death penalty cases from Kentucky and agreed to rule on the constitutionality of lethal injections. Turner's execution is on indefinite hold pending a final ruling, which isn't expected until next year.

Sociologist Larry Jablecki of Rice University thinks the court's willingness to rule on an established method of execution is evidence of the nation's growing uneasiness over putting people to death.

"A number of innocent people are being released from prison through DNA testing, and even some people on death row undoubtedly over the years have been executed, totally innocent people."

Jablecki says it's only a matter of time before the death penalty is abolished in this country.

"Now we haven't reached that point yet, but I really believe that it's inevitable in the next few years that's what's going to happen. There's no question in my mind that probably in the last 20 or 30 years a significant number of totally innocent people have been executed."

Now that the Supreme Court has accepted the Texas and Kentucky appeals, Jablecki says he expects others facing imminent death by lethal injection to file appeals of their own asking for a stay pending the court's decision. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.