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Essays On Death Penalty In Texas

Essays On Death Penalty In Texas

















































"The volunteers of Human Writes seek to hold out the hand of friendship to men and women facing the death penalty. I am pleased to encourage them in their writing"
Most Reverend and Rt Hon George L Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

"No matter its circumstances, dying is one of the most important things we ever do. I applaud all who offer compassion and hope to those facing death, especially in the terrible circumstances of Death Row. May God bless your work."
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Prisoners’ artwork notelets available for sale.

A Prisoner Testimonial. «I thanked God this morning for the lovely People in my life and for the overflowing gift of love that is in my heart for you and my penfriends. It’s a very far step from the heart of ill emotions that I used to have years ago.»

Art and Writing From Death Row




Please note: all prisoners’ work is copyrighted. If you wish to copy any work, please ask by contacting us

Human Writes Patrons

"As a journalist who has lived and worked in the United States, the horror of death row is one of the issues that never leaves you. The thread of humanity that Human Writes manages to sustain with men and women on death row is a profound contribution to keep alive the hope of life. Capital punishment is now on the retreat in America, but the numbers awaiting their fate are still very considerable. I am very honoured to have become a Patron of Human Writes and will hope to do my best to put my shoulder to the wheel".
Jon Snow Broadcaster and journalist, Patron, Human Writes

"In such an inhuman system small moments of human contact make a big difference. That’s why I support Human Writes and why I would encourage you to do the same."
Gary Younge. Author and US-based feature writer for the Guardian, Patron, Human Writes

"I know what it is like to live in a cell for decades and feel that the whole world hates you. I never expected to be able to live again as a contributing member of a community. Prison life was precarious and unpredictable but I met people who worked there who wanted to help me and people like me — and I’m lucky that I live in a society graceful enough to offer me a second chance. At least I had hope. Hope for many of the people supported by Human Writes has all but been extinguished. Letters to people on Death Row let them know that however low they may have fallen, they are still human beings. They still have value and are worth caring about and letters might just help to keep hope alive. That is why I am honoured to have been invited to be a patron."
Erwin James. author and Guardian columnist, Patron, Human Writes

Capital punishment:
All viewpoints on the death penalty.

About this section:

This section of our website deals with the execution of criminals found guilty of having committed very serious crimes.

This used to be a universal practice in North America. However, in recent decades, almost all democracies in the world have abandoned the death penalty. The U.S. Japan, and South Korea are the only exceptions. Of course, many dictatorships and theocracies in the world retain the death penalty as a terror weapon against their own people.

In North America, as of 2015-MAY-29:

  • 19 states in the U.S. and the country of Canada have abolished the death penalty.
  • During 2015, the Legislature in Nebraska has voted to abolish the death penalty. Governor Pet Ricketts (R) has vetoed the bill. However, the Legislature overode the veto by a vote of 30 to 19. 30 votes was the minimum required to successfully override a veto. Surprisingly, there was considerable support from conservative lawgivers who objected to the expensive and bureaucratic process needed to execute people, and who felt that ending people’s lives is not a proper function of government. Some legislators may have extended their pro-life beliefs concerning abortion access to also reject the concept of the state killing people.
  • Previous to Nebraska’s ban, Connecticut and Maryland were the most recent states to eliminate executions. Maryland is the only state south of the Mason-Dixon line to have done so. However, Connecticut’s law only relates to people who commit very serious crimes in the future. There are still 11 inmates who were convicted of serious crimes in the past, are on death row, and who may be executed in the future.
  • Californian adults voted in Proposition 34 — a citizen initiative — on election day in early 2012-NOV. Voters were able to choose between two options: to preserve capital punishment or to replace it with life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. The final vote was 52.8% in favor of the more expensive option — retaining the death penalty — and 47.2% for ending executions. If it had passed, it would have saved the state about $100 million a year.
  • Like other topics elsewhere in this website, we try to explain objectively all viewpoints. Thus, no matter what your beliefs are, you will certainly see material with which you strongly disagree and other material with which you will agree. If you don’t want to see your beilefs challenged you might want to leave this web site, and stick with other information sources that are biased either in a liberal or conservative direction and which matche your own views.

    Topics covered in this section are:

  • Part 2: Methods. Grounds for execution. Trends in the U.S.
  • Part 4: Executing the mentally ill. International abolition drives.
  • Part 5: Executing child criminals: Overview, Countries that execute; the Bible; Opposition.
  • Part 6: Executing child criminals (Cont’d): Status, Court decisions, Opinion polls.
  • Executing Saddam Hussein
  • Abolition of the death penalty by New Jersey, 2007-DEC: Part 1 Part 2
  • Widening the range of the death penalty beyond murder:
    • Quotes, existing grounds, child molestation and rape
    • Motivation; executing innocent adults; Louisiana case before the Supreme Court
  • Arguments for and against the death penalty:
    • Reasons people give for and against the death penalty
    • Does the death penalty act as a deterrent to homicide?
    • Public support for, opposition to, and alternatives to the death penalty. State moratoriums

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      An innovative T-shirt:

      As of 2015-MAY, Amnesty International sells a remarkable unisex T-shirt that shows the U.S. states that still have the death penalty as red stars and those that don’t as white stars. The star representing Texas appears to have trailing blood smear, apparently because of the enormous number of executions per capita in that state. The caption says "Abolish the Death Penalty." Amnesty International is working to ensure that more red stars will flip to white. They enclose a stencil with some fabric paint so that you can change red stars to white as additional states abolish capital punishment. See: http://shop.amnestyusa.org/ Amazon.com offers free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

      Because this shirt will likely be a conversation-starter, AI has supplied three arguments against the death penalty:

      • Two wrongs don’t make a right.
      • The death penalty system is too flawed to be fixed, and risks innocent lives.
      • There are more constructive ways to address violent crime!

      To which we would like to add: (Bias alert )

      • It is more expensive to execute someone than to keep them in jail for life.
      • Most Americans favor life sentences without any possibility of parole, instead of execution.
      • Whether you are executed or not depends a lot on how much money you have to spend in your defense, and your skin color.
      • Stopping the death penalty:
        • Is a pro-life position.
        • Keeps more prison guards employed.
        • Helps create a culture in which human personhood is so highly valued that not even the state is allowed to kill people.

      One great thing about this T-shirt is that you can proudly wear it if you are a supporter of the death penalty. All you have to do is to erase the word "Abolish."

      Other T-shirts, both for and against the death penalty are available on the Cafe Press web site at: http://www.cafepress.com/ They also sell bumper stickers, cups, wall clocks, tote bags, hats, mugs, and buttons

      Part 1: Death penalty data

      By the 1930′s up to 150 people were executed yearly. 1 Lack of public support for capital punishment and various legal challenges reduced the execution rate to near zero by 1967. The U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in 1972.

      In 1976, the Supreme Court authorized its resumption. 2 Each state could then decide whether or not to have the death penalty.

      As of 2002-OCT, only 12 states and the District of Columbia did not have the death penalty. The states which had abolished executions are typically northern: Alaska, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. However, seven jurisdictions have the death penalty but have not performed any executions since 1976. They are also mostly northern: Connecticut, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota and the U.S. military.

      By 2012-APR, four more states had abolished the death penalty:

      • 2004: The courts declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional in New York.
      • 2007: New Jersey repealed its death penalty law.
      • 2009: New Mexico repealed its death penalty law.
      • 2011: Illinois repealed its death penalty law.
      • 2012: The Connecticut Legislature passed a bill to abandon the death penalty for future convictions, although the 11 men still on death row may still be executed. The governor signed it into law on 2012-APR-25 making that state the 17th to repeal the death penalty. This is more than one third of the states. 7
      • 2013: Maryland became the 18th state to eliminate the death penalty.

      On election day in 2012-NOV, California voters voted on whether to approve a proposition to abandon the death penalty and change the sentence of those on death row to life imprisonment without parole. They approved retention of capital punishment by a narrow margin of 52 to 48%. The percentage of voters opposed to the death penalty is rising; it was only 29% in 1978. 8

      The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that whenever a sentencing jury has the ability to impose capital punishment, the jury must be informed in advance if the defendant would be eligible for parole if he or she was sentenced to life imprisonment.

      Almost all states have an automatic review of each conviction by their highest appellate court.

      There are a number of federal offenses that can lead to the death penalty. About 21 prisoners are housed in death row at the federal Terre Haute, IN facility. One was executed in 2001. This was the first federal execution in 36 years.

      Texas holds the record for the largest number of executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Virginia has executed a larger percentage of its population than any other state over 1 million in population.

      As of 2002-JAN-1: From 1976, when executions were resumed, until 2002-JUL-1, there were 784 executions in the US. About 30 to 60 prisoners are currently killed annually, most by lethal injection. About 66% of the executions are conducted in five states: Texas, Virginia, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma. Texas leads the other states in number of killings (256 killings; 34% of the national total). There were about 3,690 prisoners sentenced to death in 37 state death rows, and 31 being held by the U.S. government and military. 3 About 1.5% are women. Recent laws have expanded the number of crimes for which capital punishment can be applied. Other legislation has reduced some of the appeal mechanisms available to those on death row.

      Public approval of the death penalty is currently about 70%. Public support is essentially the same in Canada, a country which has abandoned capital punishment. However, when a public opinion poll is taken in which subjects are asked whether they preferred the death penalty or life imprisonment with no opportunity for parole, a majority will often select the latter.

      The vast majority of those executed were poor. About 90% could not afford a lawyer when they went to trial. They had to rely upon a court-appointed lawyer.

      The homicide rate in those states with the death penalty is almost double the rate of those states without the death penalty. It is not known whether this is due to:

      • People in high-homicide states demanding the death penalty as a perceived deterrent, or
    • Use of the death penalty by the state cheapens the value of life, and causes a higher homicide rate, or

      Essentially all of the persons executed are male. since 1976 when executions resumed, there have only been four women executed — all in Southern states. These were:

      1984-NOV-02. North Carolina: Velma Barfield confessed to murdering three people with arsenic. According to About.com:

      "In prison she became a born-again Christian and her list of supporters who objected to her execution grew, including evangelist Billy Graham. Velma also discovered she was a skilled counselor and helped inmates adjust to their prison existence. She co-wrote a book, Woman on Death Row, a collection of her memoirs." 4

      While in prison she confessed to additional murders.

      1998-FEB-03: Texas. Karla Faye Tucker, 38, was convicted of killing two people in 1983 with a pickax. She was the first woman since 1863 to be executed in that state. She had repented of her crimes, and been "born again" during her 14 years of imprisonment. Her case received a great deal of publicity. Many individuals and groups pleaded for clemency. This included Fundamentalist Teleminister Pat Robertson; Ron Carlson (brother of victim Deborah Thornton); Peggy Kurtz, (sister of victim Jerry Dean); Paul Ward, a juror who convicted Tucker; and even her arresting officer, J.C. Mosier. 5

      1998-MAR-30: Florida. Judy Beenano, 54 was called the "Black Widow " for poisoning her husband, drowning her son and trying to blow up her fiance. She was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848.

      2002-OCT-09: Florida: Aileen Wuornos was found guilty for the murders of six men including one police officer and a missionary. A movie name titled "Monster" starring Charlize Theron was made about her life. Several books, documentaries, and TV specials have also been produced. She also became a Christian in prison. Her last words were: "I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the Rock and I’ll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mothership and all. I’ll be back. " There is no evidence that she has returned yet. 6

      Canada does not have a death penalty. In most cases, the most serious sentence for murder is life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years. However, if a person has a long history of violent crime, then they can be declared a "dangerous offender ." With this classification they are given an indefinite sentence with little chance of ever being released from prison.

      Public opinion polls show that over 70% of the adult population would like to see a return of hanging for first degree murder. This is almost identical to the level of support in the U.S. The Roman Catholic Church and liberal churches wish to continue the present status; conservative Protestant denominations are overwhelmingly in favor of a return to capital punishment. However, they do not appear to be aggressively promoting the death penalty. Their main concerns seem to be directed at preventing same-sex couples from marrying. limiting abortion access. and maintaining soliciting for prostitution and marijuana use as criminal acts .

      The homicide rate in Canada has been gradually dropping since executions were stopped. This phenomenon has been observed in many other countries who have abandoned the death penalty. However, statisticians have never been able to convincingly prove that there is a relationship between the decrease in homicides and the cessation of the death penalty.

      Relatively few other developed countries in the world impose the death penalty. Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. are the only established democracies in the world that still conduct executions. The execution rate in Japan is a small fraction of that in the U.S.

      Some countries, such as Italy, routinely refuse to extradite accused murderers to the US because of the possibility that they might be executed. Canada originally refused to extradite suspected mass murderer Charles Ng to California for a trial. The government ruling was later overturned by Canada’s Supreme Court.

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