History of Death Penalty in Texas

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Last updated: June 22, 2019

During the historical era in the state of Texas, the use of the death penalty was common and frequent; before 1923 districts carried out executions themselves, in the form of hanging.

However in 1923 the state of Texas prepared every execution to be carried out by the state in Huntsville using the electric chair as the method of execution. The state of Texas put to death their first prisoner by electrocution on February 8, 1924 and there were four more executions following the very first one on that date.The inmates that were sentenced to death and the areas that the executions were taken place were located in the Huntsville division from 1928 to 1965, and the last electrocution was carried out on July 30, 1964. This state electrocuted a sum of 361 inmates from 1924 to 1964. During the changes and views on capital punishment in the year of 1964, there were legal disputes regarding the death penalty that resulted in the de facto moratorium on executions in the United States. During these challenging times on June 29, 1972 in the case of Furman v.Georgia the United States Supreme Court ruled that each states capital punishment law in the U.

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S. was illicit since the death penalty was unjustly used and arbitrarily assigned. During that time there were 52 men in Texas awaiting execution, however the governor overturned all their sentences to life in prison and there wasn’t anyone left on death row by March of 1973.

Even though death row was cleared and the inmates received life sentences, the state of Texas approved a new statue in1973 to regulate how capital punishment was assessed.In 1974 with the new statue, jurors began enforcing death sentences and the number of death row inmates began to increase once again. In 1977 Texas implemented lethal injection as a form of execution and the first lethal injection was administered on December 7, 1982. Even though executions were put on hold for awhile they resumed in 1982. The following year there weren’t any administered, however throughout the next eight years there were an average of five executions a year. Over the next century 43 prisoners died by execution.

In 1989, the United States Supreme Court agreed that in the case of Penry v. Lynough jurors are permitted to think about justifying facts, for example mental retardation and child abuse, when enforcing capital punishment. A number of inmates were vacated as an effect of this choice. The Texas legislature revised the sentencing instructions given to jurors in 1991, ending in a three-question format and its used present day.

In 1992, the rate of executions increased rapidly and over the next four years there were 62 inmates executed which means on average there were fifteen executions per year.In 1995 the Texas legislature approved a regulation that required certain death-row appeals to be organized at the same time. The reason for this was to minimize the time that inmates exhausted on death row awaiting appeals, the effect of this caused executions to cease while being appealed. During the months that followed, March 1996 to January 1997 there was only one inmate executed. Although the laws were challenged, once everything resumed, over the next three years 92 executions took place.In 1998 seven prisoners that were serving death sentences attempted to escaped the prison and all except one inmate was captured. This particular inmate was already wounded when fled the grounds and a couple weeks later he was found dead in the Trinity River. In the year of 2000 there were quite of few issues that came under inspection regarding the death penalty.

It was said that capital punishment was unkind, unjust to minorities, and it led the country in executions, which means Texas executed more people than all the other 37 states with the death penalty combined.With these outrageous numbers there was a component available that wasn’t available prior to these executions; it was the advancement in DNA testing. It was decided that DNA evidence should be retested in cases where the defendant could have been in doubt of guilt. With this being said in 2001 the legislature passed a law assuring DNA testing to any damned inmates whose innocence could possibly be protected as a consequence. Since the numbers of execution has declined per year from the high 30’s to the low 20’s but this doesn’t have anything to with the advancement in the use of DNA.

Furthermore, in 2005 the Supreme Court limited the claim of capital punishment when it ruled that inmates who committed capital offenses when they were a minor could not be put to death. Also Texas altered the law so that the prison term for capital murders would be life in prison and ineligible for parole instead of the death penalty; by using this method the outcome that would reflect less inmates being placed on death row and more inmates serving life.This method worked and usually jurors would send about 30 inmates to death row a year, however with the change in the law the jurors on send about 15 inmates to death row. As a result, the residents of death row have declined from 446 prisoners at the beginning of 2005 to 354 inmates at the beginning of 2009. The amount of prisoners presently on death row is the lowest it has been since 1992 (Carson).

Current Law In the state of Texas the current law still remains the same, the local courts have authority every illegal felony case.If a person is found guilty of a capital felony, they may be sentence by death, if the State wanted punishment of that nature. Examples of capital felonies are: murder of a public safety officer or firefighter in the line of duty, murder during the commission of specified felonies (kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated rape, arson), murder for remuneration, multiple murders, murder during prison escape, murder of a correctional officer, murder of a judge, murder by a state prison inmate who is serving a life sentence for any of five offenses, or murder of an individual under six years of age.The offender has to be at least 18 years of age or older at the time of the crime, if defended is found guilty the case is appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and if they lose the appeal they may appeal their case to the U. S Circuit Court, and if that isn’t effective they can go to the U. S Supreme Court. When every option is used, in capital cases the Governor of the state of Texas has the authority to award the offender a 30 day reprieve of a set execution (Texas History). The inmate still has rights until he dies.

On the last day if life he is allowed one final meal and that final meal will be administered at approximately 3:30 p. . to 4 p. m.

Prior, to 6 p. m. , the inmate may take a shower and dress in clean clothes. Everything that is needed and all the preparations for the execution to be carried out will be completed at a prearranged time. After 6 p. m. , the door will be unlocked, and the prisoner will be taken from the holding cell.

The inmate will be removed from the cell location and into the execution chamber and held to a gurney. A medically skilled person that is not to be known shall insert an intravenous catheter into the individual’s arms and cause a saline solution to flow.At that point in time, the witnesses shall be lead to the execution chamber (Texas Execution Procedures and History). Method of Execution/Currently on Death Row The method of execution is lethal injection. The injection is Sodium Thiopental, the lethal dose Pancuronium Bromide, it relaxes the muscle relaxant, and lastly the Potassium Chloride which stops the heart beat.

Category| State Information| State Abbreviation| TX| State Name| Texas| Death Penalty? | Yes| Number of Executions Since 1976| 462| Number of Executions before 1976| 755| Current Death Row Population| 337|Women on Death Row | 10| Date Death Penalty Re-enacted| 01/01/1974| 1st Execution After Re-enactment| 1982| Murder Rate (per 100,000)| 5. 6| Is Life Without Parole an Option? | Yes| Can a defendant get death for a felony in which s/he was not responsible for the murder? | Yes| Number of Innocent Persons Freed From Death Row| 11| Number of Clemencies Granted| 2| Region| South| Method| Injection| How is the Sentence Determined? | Jury| Location of Death Row(s)| Livingston (Women: Gatesville)| Clemency Process| Governor must have the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommendation for clemency. Discussion In my opinion I feel as though the state of Texas has zero tolerance. If a person commits a crime the punishment will be harsh and swift. I think that the way this particular state administers the death penalty is ridiculous. As I stated previously there were 93 executions that took place in the course of three years and I feel that at least ten percent of those inmates were probably not guilty or couldn’t afford a decent lawyer to represent them so they ended up on death row.Once the state began to get scrutinized by the public they took a step back and began to pay attention to the high numbers of executions that took place in there state. However those laws were set in place that only minimized the numbers slightly and the jurors still chose to place prisoners on death row.

Currently there are 337 people on death row waiting to die. This number in my opinion is rather large and most of those people will not make it to the set date to die for the most part.Jurors are ready to send people to death row at any given moment as long as the offender meets the death eligible crimes. They are not considering how expensive it is to hold someone on death row. Currently there are 337 people on death row and the average cost per day to house an inmate on death row is $59. 98.

So if you take $59. 98 multiply that by 337 inmates you will get $20,213. 26 to house 337 death row inmates a day; let’s take it a step further and multiply $20,213. 26 by 365 days in a year and that equal $7,377,839. 90 to house 337 prisoners on death row a year.I can take this information another step further by saying the average time a person is held on death row is eight years and ten months and that amount equals to about $59,040,713.

20 to hold an inmate on death row (Texas Department of Criminal Justice). I know may factors come into play, for death row inmates such as some inmates may die, others maybe found innocent, and some could possibly receive a lesser sentence, however the likelihood for that miracle to happen and it puts a dent in the number of prisoners on death row is probably not going to happen.All of this money is being spent on these specific inmates this isn’t even factoring in the cost of the administering the execution or the amount to hold an inmate in prison who is just serving a form of sentence. The state and government puts all this money into a broken prison system and really is just wasting money on killing someone who killed someone. Overall I feel that the death penalty is too expensive; however I am a religious person so I can’t really say if I’m for or against capital punishment, because I feel that no one man should have the power to inflict pain or cause death towards a person.GOD is the only one who has the power to give and take and he is a forgiving GOD so why should someone feel they need to inflict death on another when GOD has possibly already forgiven them, especially when our government and or court system is held “In GOD We Trust”. Personally the system is one big ball of contradictions, but who am I to judge that. I have had family members killed and yes I do want them to be punishment but would I want to see them die because of what they have done I don’t think I would, so maybe I am saying I’m against capital punishment, however there’s exceptions to every rule.

One thing I can’t take is someone to harm a child. Children are innocent and loving; they don’t have any clue about fear, anger, hate, or pain. So for a person to take a child life in any way is unacceptable and that’s the only time I would have the slightest idea of putting someone on death row other than that they could rot in prison while becoming someone’s girlfriend. Does this statement make me a hypocrite possibly, but I have a daughter and children are my soft spot and that in my opinion should be the only death eligible crime.

ConclusionOverall, I feel as though the death penalty is put in place like any other law. This is an historical fact that probably will last for a long time. During this research I’ve learned so much about the state of Texas, dating back to the early nineteen hundreds. It’s interesting to see the world evolve and how things changed but in a way they don’t, everything just advances. My view of the death penalty and capital punishment will never change and given these facts that I’ve learned from this research it just helped me understand why I feel the way I do now.

This is a broken system that we citizens have to depend on, changes need to be made swift and quickly, the same way the State of Texas executes a person, that’s how the system needs to change and improve for the sake of America and everyone that living in it. Hopefully one day the system can work together and flow without any concerns or problems that seems to occur in our system often, however I don’t see the day where that will happen anytime soon.


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