Death Penalty in Texas

Death Penalty

Texas carries out the death penalty more than any other state.

Executions by State (since 1976)

         State                                                                                      Total Executions

         Texas                                                                                               515

         Oklahoma                                                                                  111

         Virginia                                                                                      110

          Florida                                                                                         88

          Missouri                                                                                    77

          Alabama                                                                                    56

          Georgia                                                                                      54

           Ohio                                                                                            53

           North Carolina                                                                     43

           South Carolina                                                                     43

           Arizona                                                                                     37

           Louisiana                                                                                 28

           Arkansas                                                                                  27

           Mississippi                                                                              21

           Indiana                                                                                      20

           Delaware                                                                                 16

           California                                                                                13

           Illinois                                                                                        12

           Nevada                                                                                      12

           Utah                                                                                              7

           Tennessee                                                                                 6

            Maryland                                                                                  5

            Washington                                                                            5

            Nebraska                                                                                  3

            Montana                                                                                   3

            Pennsylvania                                                                         3

            U. S. Federal Gov’t                                                              3

            Kentucky                                                                                  3

            Idaho                                                                                           3

            South Dakota                                                                         3

            Oregon                                                                                       2

            Connecticut                                                                            1

            New Mexico                                                                            1

            Colorado                                                                                    1

            Wyoming                                                                                   1

And a very large majority of Texans support continued use of the death penalty. Here’s a Texas poll from 2012:

What is your opinion of the death penalty?
Strongly support:          42%
Somewhat support:       31%
Somewhat oppose:        11%
Strongly oppose:           10%
Don’t know:                    5%

SOURCE: University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, May 2012

But we know several things:

* the death penalty is far more expensive than life imprisonment without parole;
* the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime;
* the death penalty is implemented in a racially unbalanced manner;
* the death penalty has been carried out on innocent victims.

If you don’t think those things are true, you can easily look it up to prove it to yourself.

Given that the above statements are true, why do we still have capital punishment in Texas? What justification is there – beyond simple blood-lust vengeance – for capital punishment? Is vengeance an adequate reason for the state to kill people, even if sometimes we kill someone who is innocent?

Check out this last table:

Rank                                            Country                                       Number executed in 2012[69]

1                                              People’s Republic of China     4,000+Officially not released.

2                                              Iran                                                         314+

3                                              Iraq                                                         129+

4                                              Saudi Arabia                                       79+

5                                              United States                                     43

6                                              Yemen                                                     28+

7                                              Sudan                                                       19+

8                                              Afghanistan                                          14

9                                              Gambia                                                     9

10                                           Japan                                                         7

11                                           North Korea                                          6+

12                                           Somalia                                                     6+

13                                           Palestinian Authority                       6

14                                           Republic of China (Taiwan)            6

15                                           South Sudan                                           5+

16                                           Belarus                                                      3+

17                                           Botswana                                                 2

18                                           Bangladesh                                             1

19                                           India                                                            1

20                                           Pakistan                                                    1

21                                           United Arab Emirates                       1

Does the company the US keeps by retaining the death penalty cause you to question our continuing to perform executions?

What’s your opinion?

Should Texas, and should the US, continue to carry out executions?

Yes, I know I’ve painted a completely one-sided picture of the death penalty. I haven’t, for example, provided descriptions of crimes committed that have led to executions. I haven’t provided statements from family members of murder victims. I haven’t done several things I could have done to make this a “fair” presentation. I decided not to do that because a) given that we live in Texas, I didn’t think I needed to present that side of the picture, and b) I thought some of you might not know some of those things and might not look them up before responding.

You’ll find that in this class I regularly do not give both sides of the story. My goal is to make you think — to question your assumptions. Hopefully when I present a one-sided story you’ll take the time to investigate the other side. There’s ALWAYS another side! Please do NOT assume you know what I think about this or any other issue based on the way I ask the question or based on what data I present. And please do NOT EVER tailor your answer based on what you think I want to hear. I promise you that you do not know what I want to hear, or even if I “want to hear” anything at all.

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