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Texas: America's State-Sponsored Execution Capital

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 30 June 2013


Texas: America's State-Sponsored Execution Capital


by Stephen Lendman


In 1972, the Supreme Court's Furman v. Georgia ruling banned capital punishment, saying:


"(T)he imposition and carrying out of the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." 


Doing so is "harsh, freakish, and arbitrary." It's constitutionally "unacceptable."


Forty state death penalty statutes were voided. Over 600 death row inmates nationwide were spared.


In Gregg v. Georgia (1976), the High Court reversed its earlier ruling. It called capital punishment not inherently cruel. It's "an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes." It said so irresponsibly. More on that below.


It let states resume executions. It ruled new death penalty statutes constitutional. It ignored Eighth Amendment protection. It prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.


On December 7, 1982, Texas resumed executions. Charlie Brooks died first. He expired by lethal injection. He was a 40-year old Black man. He never had a chance. Serious doubts of his guilt didn't save him. 


The prosecutor pleading his death sentence be commuted didn't help. Evidence was lacking. No one knew for sure. Was he guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt or innocent? Was his codefendant involved? It didn't matter. 


He requested a stay. The Supreme Court heard his case. It ruled 6 - 3 against him. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended execution. It did so 2 - 1.


On June 26, Texas executed Kimberly McCarthy. She's the 500th victim since the state resumed executions in 1982. Another 282 victims await death. 


Governor Rick Perry is a modern-day executioner. He's an assassin. He permitted 263 premeditated executions on his watch. He acted irresponsibly. He did so unapologetically. He can't wait to kill again.


How many prisoners are innocent? How many are Black or Latino? How many are poor and disadvantaged? How many had inadequate representation? How many never had a chance?


Texas likes to kill. It does more often than any other state. It can't wait to lethally inject again. Since December 7, 1982, over 1,000 US prisoners nationwide were executed this way.


Health professionals are required to do so or assist. Those involved violate core medical ethics. Med students are taught primum non nocere: First, do no harm. What harms more than painful killing! 


Lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. It's state-sponsored torture. It's excruciatingly painful. Numerous injections are botched. 


Death takes around 20 minutes to over an hour. Prisoners are strapped in gurneys. They're helpless. They gasp for air, grimace in pain, convulse, and suffer foot-long chemical burns.


Former Texas attorney general Mark White call state justice "very fragile." Since Utah executed Gary Gilmore by firing squad in 1977, Texas accounted for nearly 40% of over 1,300 executions nationwide. 


On average, prisoners die every three weeks. It's practically an assembly line process. Texas traditionally is tough on killers. Guilt by accusation suffices. Justice is a four-letter word.


Killing McCarthy was just another execution. They're routine. They go off like clockwork. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said, "We simply carried out the court's order."


Maurie Levin represented McCarthy. "Five hundred is 500 too many," he said.


"I look forward to the day when we recognize that this pointless and barbaric practice, imposed almost exclusively on those who are poor and disproportionately on people of color, has no place in a civilized society."


Serious doubts of McCarthy's guilt didn't matter. She maintained innocence numerous times. Levin tried to halt her execution. Dallas County prosecutors improperly excluded Black jurors.


Levin said there's a "pervasive influence of race in administration of the death penalty and the inadequacy of counsel - a longstanding issue here."


People of color don't have a chance. Things are rigged against them. Guilt by accusation suffices. Innocence doesn't matter.


Ritual death proceed regularly. They've become mundane. Most Texans support them. Who cares if another Black man or woman dies?


McCarthy was a Huntsville Texas State Penitentiary inmate (Huntsville Unit - HV). In 1998, Ponchai Wilkerson became warden. He oversaw 89 executions.


"Here in Texas, another one is coming a fews days later, and you've forgotten the one before," he said. Life is cheap. Ritual murder's mundane.


Amnesty International's Brian Evans heads AI's abolishing capital punishment campaign. In Texas, it's "arbitrary, biased and prone to error," he said.


"It is a profound and irreversible injustice. The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."


Mostly people of color are affected. Since January 2012, 13 of 16 victims were Black. Prisoners suffering severe mental illness are executed. Many are intellectually disabled. 


Teenagers are treated like adults. Counsel is woefully inadequate. Prisoners are routinely executed. Flawed or questionable evidence doesn't matter. Sometimes none exists.


The ACLU opposes capital punishment. It does so "on moral, practical, and constitutional grounds. (It) inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law."


"(T)he state should not give itself the right to kill human beings -  especially when it kills with premeditation and ceremony, in the name of the law or in the name of its people, and when it does so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion."


"Capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system. The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice."


"People of color are far more likely to be executed than white people, especially if the victim is white."


Since 1973, over 140 prisoners in 26 states got death sentences commuted. Innocence saved them. At least one person nationwide is exonerated for every 10 executed. 


Many innocent victims die. Capital punishment is imposed irresponsibly. It's done without probable cause providing a reasonable certainty of guilt based on verifiable facts.


Beyond a reasonable doubt isn't applied. The term requires an inviolable standard be met. Prosecutors, jurors and judges must have no doubt of guilt. It involves the highest standard of proof.


In civil litigation, convincing or preponderance of evidence suffices. It's a lesser standard to satisfy. Capital cases require the highest. Clear and convincing evidence based on verifiable facts is essential. Anything less demands exoneration.


Kimberly McCarthy should have been spared. She never should have been convicted in the first place. She was accused of a 1997 robbery/murder.


Trials are rigged to convict. Evidence is manufactured out of whole cloth. White prosecutors, judges and jurors try Black and Latino victims. Most are among society's most disadvantaged.


They can't afford proper representation. Texas and other states don't provide it. Systemic injustice follows. Dozens of wrongful convictions explain.


David Protess headed Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project. He now heads the Chicago Innocence Project


ChIP is non-profit. It "investigates cases in which prisoners may have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, with priority to murder cases that resulted in sentences of death or life without parole." 


It "involve(s) college students, community residents, private investigators and journalists in the reporting process." 


It doesn't "represent clients in criminal cases, but after (its) investigation is completed, outside counsel may bring new evidence of innocence to court." 


Its "fundamental goal is to expose and remedy wrongdoing by the criminal justice system." There's more than enough there to expose. It's a cancer needing expunging.


Protess spent decades exposing wrongful convictions. He showed duplicitous tactics were used. It's done to frame victims. 

His work got former Illinois Governor George Ryan to clear death row.


He did so calling capital punishment "arbitrary, capricious, and therefore immoral." He ended his tenure by pardoning four men.


He issued a blanket death row commutation. He said "(t)he legislature couldn't reform it, lawmakers won't repeal it, and I won't stand for it - I must act."


In March 2011, Illinois officially abolished it. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia prohibit capital punishment. Perhaps a future Supreme Court will end it nationwide.


It's unlikely Texas will any other way. Over two-thirds of countries worldwide abolished it. Only a handful of countries use it often. 


America uses it abusively. It's racially biased. Over three-fourths of US death row prisoners were executed for killing whites. Over half of all homicide victims were African-American.


FBI data show states without capital punishment have lower homicide rates than overall nationally.


Capital punishment disregards mental illness. Imposing it violates international law. 


America executed more juveniles than all other nations combined. Doing so is universally called barbaric and uncivilized.


Foreign nationals are executed without being informed of their right to communicate with consular representatives.


Capital punishment is premeditated murder. Ending life irresponsibly is the highest form of injustice. America does arbitrarily, often, extrajudicially, and vengefully. 


It does so against society's least protected. It denies due process and judicial fairness. It violates constitutionally guaranteed equal protection. 


It's cruel and unusual punishment. It's barbarism writ large. It doesn't control crime. It wastes limited resources. Societies that respect life don't kill. 


America does it retail and wholesale. It does it at home and abroad. Indiscriminately shedding blood assures more. It reflects disdain for justice for all.


It reveals madness, not sanity. It shows contempt for international law. It kills innocent victims deserving better. It denies them due process irresponsibly. It's irreversible. Lost lives don't revive.


Texas reflects the worst of state-sponsored murder. Carlos DeLuna was one of many horrific cases. In 1989, state authorities executed him. They did so knowing another man was guilty.


In May, Columbia University Law School released a study titled "Los Tocayos Carlos: An Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution." Professor James Liebman and 12 student spent seven years compiling evidence.


They did so firsthand. They interviewed about 100 witnesses exhaustively. DeLuna was wrongfully executed for Wanda Lopez's stabbing death. He steadfastly maintained innocence.


He had every right to do so. He had no involvement. He identified Lopez's killer. He named Carlos Hernandez. Prosecutors wrongfully said he didn't exist.


They lied. Liebman's team proved it. He was an alcoholic. He was arrested 39 times. His rap sheet included numerous violent crimes.


Two months before DeLuna's execution, he got 10 years for assaulting a woman with a knife. The same weapon killed Lopez. Hernandez admitted doing it. Corpus Christie police knew. They did nothing.


The night she died, Lopez asked police for protection. She did so twice. They could have saved her. They ignored her. 


They arrested DeLuna straightaway. Liebman said it was to "overcome embarrassment." Doing so framed an innocent man. No evidence connected him.


It's true in many other wrongful convictions like his. Innocent victims died. They still do. State lawlessness bears full responsibility. Texas is more guilty than other states. 


It institutionalized assembly line executions. Odds are more innocent prisoners died than guilty ones. Killing them reflects premeditated state-sponsored murder. It continues with disturbing regularity.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 


His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at 


Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


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What's the population of this Nazi state called Texas doing, sitting on its thumbs and saying, "Duh, dooh, ... uhm, i dunno, what do you think?", all day long without end?  If the courts  there can't demonstrate being truly human, then the population of the state definitely needs to act and strongly so.

What an article like this tells us brings tears for the past and, unfortunately, future victims, and outrage against the state.  Put these so-called judges and those complicit with them on death row and let's see how they feel about this.  I'll be glad to preside over this court decision.  They surely can be clinically diagnosed as being psychopaths and serial killers, so why shouldn't they receive death sentences?  It would sure do society a lot of good.  Of course I'm against the death penalty, but we can pretend that they'll be put to death and then just keep them behind prison bars until ... whenever they die of natural causes.  They and society minimally merit this.  The former are cold-blooded, soulless executioners, psychopathic serial killers, and society needs a break from hellbent government rule.

Federal government doesn't care and this isn't surprising, since it wages wars of aggression, muderous genocide, etc., and also commits these extremely criminal acts using lies in order to try to fool Americans into supporting the wars.  The President will have a bad day if it doesn't begin with the killings of innocent people.

It's a very sick society.  A majority of Americans wanted US troops pulled out of Iraq, which seems like a good thing, but why did they want this?  It was too financially expensive. Today they're happy with the serial and mass killings by the US using drones controlled from remote; requiring far fewer people to murder many others and, therefore, costing taxpayers a lot less. Killing innocent people is a "favorite American passtime".

Anyway, very good article and while my mind was exploding, it was great to read the following part.


Protess spent decades exposing wrongful convictions. He showed duplicitous tactics were used. It's done to frame victims.  

His work got former Illinois Governor George Ryan to clear death row.    

He did so calling capital punishment "arbitrary, capricious, and therefore immoral." He ended his tenure by pardoning four men.

He issued a blanket death row commutation. He said "(t)he legislature couldn't reform it, lawmakers won't repeal it, and I won't stand for it - I must act."

We have to be greatly thankful for Governor Ryan providing this example of excellent decision-making and soul/mind.  Hopefully, it'll inspire those who need to become human or, if you prefer, humane.  I don't know anything else about him, but he certainly demonstrated real leadership quality when he committed this good and needed or necessary act.

I didn't know the woman but read an article or two about a woman who was on death row in Texas, I believe while GW Bush was gov.  I don't recall the article or articles saying that she was innocent, but what they did report was that she was pleading for her LIFE. Imo, then and now, the fact that she was pleading as she was, to be spared from execution, illustrated that she had humanity in her.  She was human and definitely merited support, regardless of what she had been convicted for.  If she was innocent of what she was convicted for, then it goes without needing to be said that the state committed cold-blooded, psychopathic murder.  But if she was guilty of what she was charged for, then she nevertheless needed public support against the death penalty and for very likely for more than only this.  In that case, a humane society would want to work with such a person. First off, we should inquire why she committed the act she was convicted for and, from there, work to help her rehabilitate.  If she was guilty, then she needed UNDERSTANDING, and if she was innocent, then ... it goes without needing to be said. 

Bush signed the death sentence, instead.  And then he probably went home to have some of his psychopathic mother's baked apple pie.  I love apple pie, but if it was baked by her, then it'd go right into the garbage cannister.

The story, putting aside the part about Bush's mother's pie, was published and it didn't seem to cause furor across the USA as should've happened.  There was some protest, but not much. Protest should happen in other cases as well, but this is one I read about and I know of extremely few other cases of death sentences even if there're very many.  Spending much time reading about the topic fills me with outrage and there's nothing that any of us, as individuals acting alone, can do to stop this extremely unjust rule of so-called law.  If I had the ability to overthrow such governments, then I'd gladly do it, but ... we don't possess such temporal power.

I don't know if it's true, but there's a story about the life of Francis of Assisi after the Franciscan Order was formed.  One day he's walking to a town or city (whatever it was) that was under Roman rule.  Francis saw a man being punished; tied, with a rope by the feet and to a horse that was driven in circles, the individual being dragged across the ground while the horse ran.  Once he got close enough Francis could see that this was a peer Franciscan, so he went to the Roman governor (whatever the title was) to try to get his peer released, explaining that he'd be innocent.  The paranoid governor, who already had fair relations with Francis, asked Francis if he'd overthrow the governor, which is what the latter thought the individual being punished was planning to try to do, alone too.  Francis purportedly answered by saying that he would, if he could, i.e., overthrow the governor / Roman occupation.  I don't know if the story is true, but it can put a smile on your face.

Even if it isn't a true story, if it isn't, then I'm sure that there're plenty of people who'd like to have the ability to overthrow rotten, fascist, ... rule.  Unfortunately, none of us have this ability.

A person isn't proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt?  Then the person remains innocent until sufficient proof of guilt is acquired.  "Innocent until proven guilty" is supposed to be US law.  This goes without needing to be stated.  But a person who's proven to truly be guilty also deserves humane treatment.  They merit merciful treatment and if/when they plead for help, then they should receive the needed help.  Mercy, compassion, understanding are essential qualities for a society to be qualified as truly CIVILIZED.

Take it literally or else figuratively, but those who show no mercy, compassion, understanding, forgiveness for or towards others shall receive none from God, neither.  I take this in both ways.

In the USA, killing is almost like a "sport", when the victims aren't white anyway.  It isn't a culture of civilization. It's a culture of dehumanization.  Fortunately, there are some people who inspire hope, but, damn, a majority that's now happy that the US has withdrawn most regular military troops from Iraq, disregarding the fact that the US has sent more mercenaries, etc., supports remote-controlled mass killings with the use of drones. They support this, for killing isn't a problem for them. The problem with the troops in Iraq is or was the additional $ cost.  This isn't a society that deserves to be considered civilized. It's dehumanized.


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