Is it time to abolish the death penalty in Texas? A measure to be debated today by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee is seen as the best chance the once unattainable goal has had since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed executions to continue in the 1970s, 12090 WOAI news reports.
Lawmakers will consider a measure by State Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) which would mandate life without possibility of parole for people convicted of capital crimes.
Farrar's bill also cuts down in the mandatory appeals which are required to carry out a death sentence. Those appeals are blamed for the lengthy delays between the crime and the execution of condemned criminals, and lead to the fact that, even though it sounds counter intuitive, capital punishment is actually more expensive than life without parole.
Capital punishment in Texas is under fire due to the huge number of convicted, and occasionally condemned, criminals who have walked free after several decades behind bars after scientific evidence has proven that they were not guilty.
Texas, in fact, leads the nation in exonerations, with at least two people being released from Death Row after exonerations. It is also alleged that Texas has executed at least two innocent men since 2000, and the guilt of at least three others is suspect.
In fact, the death penalty is abolishing itself in Texas. Figures obtained by the Death Penalty Information Center shows the number of killers sentenced by juries to be executed in Texas fell from a high of 49 in 1999 to ten last year. In fact, the last year juries sentenced more than ten people to die in a year was 2007, before the current rash of exonerations.
But the thing that most convinced juries to stop sentencing people to death is the move by the Legislature in 2003 to allow a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Violent crimes are also decreasing in Texas and across the country. In San Antonio in 1993, for example, there were 230 murders committed. In 2012, there were 92 murders in San Antonio, and that was actually up from 2011, when there were 88.
Texas executes by far the most people of any state in the country, and Texas and Virginia accounted for half of the executions in the US in 2012.