Saturday, April 11, 2015



As a denomination, the United Methodist Church opposes the death penalty. So does the United Methodist Women… Japan is the only industrial democracy besides the United States that has the death penalty. In Japan, the 2013 per capita execution rate was 1 execution per 15,809,458 persons.

Following is one related posting, Death Penalty in Texas; I will add a second. Both will be prepared for a two-column, back-to-back handout.

Remember: We can contact our State legislators at any time by way of the State's website. Just type Texas legislature in your browser and follow the links.


Texas has executed 518 people since 1982, more than 1/3 of the 1,394 executions nationwide since 1977.Currently 275 people are on death row in Texas.
The average cost of a Texas death penalty case is $2.3 million vs. $750,000 for life in prison. (Dallas Morning News 1992) A separate housing facilty for death row inmates costs $61.58 per day.
Each county pays for its own trials and the state appeals process. Often, smaller or poorer counties cannot afford to seek the death penalty. These costs have caused some counties to raise tax rates and withhold employee raises.
135 of Texas’ 254 counties have never sent a single offender to death row. However, because state tax dollars pay for the federal habeas corpus process, every Texas resident is contributing to the enormous costs of death penalty appeals. This means that tax dollars of Texans in the counties that cannot afford to try death penalty cases still subsidize the “wealthier” counties that do seek the death penalty.
Texas ranks 47th nationally in terms of per capita spending on mental healthcare. It ranks 1st in executions (more than 400 since 1982).
Around 30% of those incarcerated in Texas prisons or jails have been clients of the state’s public mental health system. (TX Dept. of Criminal Justice)
Execution schedule through June 18, 2015
On January 21, 2015, Texas executed Arnold Prieto
On January 28, Texas executed Garcia White
On February 4, Texas executed Donald Newbury
On February 10, execution for Lester Bower Jr. stayed
On March 5, execution for Rodney Reed stayed
On March 11, Texas executed Manuel Vasquez
On March 18, execution for Randall Mays stayed
On April 9, 2015, Texas executed Kent Sprouse
On April 15, Texas will execute Manuel Garza
On April 23, Texas will execute Richard Vasquez
On April 28, Texas will execute Robert Pruett
On May 12, Texas will execute Derrick Charles
On June 18, Texas will execute Gregory Russeau

Main factors that determine who is executed are local politics, the quality of legal counsel, the location of
the crime, plea bargaining, and pure chance. Offenders who commit similar crimes under similar circumstances often receive vastly different sentences. The race of both the offender and victim, as well as social and economic status, also play a large part in deciding who lives and who dies.
The death penalty cannot be justified as a necessary public safety measure because it has not been proven to reduce crime. Most research on the death penalty demonstrates that the possibility of being sentenced to death does not deter criminals from committing either calculated or spontaneous crimes.
States that maintain the death penalty traditionally have higher murder rates than the national average, according to FBI data. No connection has ever been made to link the rate of murders in a state to its use of the death penalty. Some countries that have abolished the death penalty, such as Canada, have since
experienced a decline in violent crime.
A 2009 national poll commissioned by the Death Penalty Information Center found that police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among ways to reduce violent crime and the least efficient use of taxpayers’ money. In addition, a 2009 study by the University of Texas at Dallas found “no empirical support for the argument that the existence or application of the death penalty deters prospective offenders from committing homicide.”
32 The FBI Uniform Crime Report consistently shows the South, which accounts for more than 80% of executions, to have the highest murder rate in the nation. The Northeast, which has carried out less than 1% of all executions, typically has the lowest murder rate.

Supreme Court Evaluation of Racial Bias in the Criminal Justice System.  A 1990 study found racial disparities in the charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty. The study concluded that a defendant was several times more likely to be sentenced to death if the murder victim was white. This has been confirmed by the findings of many other studies that, holding all other factors constant, the single most reliable report, the non-partisan U.S. General Accounting Office found "a pattern of evidence indicating predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim.”
Nationally, the racial composition of those on death row is 45% white, 42% black, and 10% Latino/ Latina. Of states with more than 10 people on death row, Texas (70%) and Pennsylvania (69%) have the largest percentage of minorities on death row. Year 2000 census data revealed that the racial composition of the United States was 75.1% white, 12.3% black and 12.5% Latino/Latina.
In January of 2012  an analysis by the Houston Chronicle found that 12 of the last 13 people condemned to death in Harris County, Texas were black. After Texas itself, Harris County is the national leader in its number of executions. Over one third of Texas's 305 death row inmates – and half of the state's 121 black death row prisoners – are from Harris County. One of those African Americans, Duane Buck, was sentenced based on the testimony of an expert psychologist who maintained that blacks are prone to violence. In 2008, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal resigned after sending an email message titled "fatal overdose", featuring a photo of a black man lying on the ground surrounded by watermelons and a bucket of chicken.
(Info from Texas Coalition to Abolish Death Penalty and Texas and Death Penalty Education and Resource Center) 

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