Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Bad (And Good) News About The Death Penalty In Texas

The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) has issued its yearly report on the death penalty in Texas. It contains both bad and good news. The bad news is that Texas once again, as usual, lead the nation in the number of executions held this year. Texas had nearly half (13) of the total executions (28) in the entire United States.

The good news is that executions are generally going down in Texas (see chart below). And even better is that the number of new death sentences is going down even faster -- with only 3 new death sentences given in Texas in 2015 (the lowest number this century).

I still wonder why the people (and elected officials) of Texas feel it is necessary to kill people as a punishment. We have known for quite a while that the death penalty is not a deterrent to violent crime (because no criminal ever believes he/she will be caught). We have also learned recently that Texas has executed innocent people.

If we needed more proof of the ridiculousness of keeping the death penalty, we have the chart below. It shows the number of death sentences given in Texas between 2011 and 2015 by race. In that five year period, 40 death sentences were issued -- and 31 of them went to minority defendants, while only 9 went to whites. And the majority (23) went to black defendants.

While it is destined to change in coming years, whites still make up a majority of the Texas population -- which makes it ridiculous that minorities are sentenced to death three times as much as whites. It is obvious that our justice system is not color-blind.

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