Texas Legislature

Texas House Committee Considers Bills To Abolish Death Penalty

Between them, Houston State Reps. Harold Dutton and Jessica Farrar have sponsored more than a dozen measures to end capital punishment since 2003.

The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence heard testimony on a pair of bills to abolish the death penalty in Texas. Houston Representatives Harold Dutton and Jessica Farrar authored the bills.

Special Coverage Of The 85th Texas Legislative Session

Special Coverage Of The 85th Texas Legislative Session

Speaking at a press conference before the committee hearing, Dutton said that, as the death penalty is administered, there’s too great a risk of innocent people being executed along with the guilty.

“This is a system where the wrong person can be arrested. The wrong person can be tried. The wrong person can be convicted. The wrong person can be sentenced,” he said.

Dutton has proposed a bill to eliminate the death penalty in every legislative session since 2003. Farrar has offered one of her own every two years since 2007. Opponents, arguing the death penalty remains an effective deterrent to violent crime, have stymied all efforts to get such a bill to the House floor.

“This bill may not pass this time,” Dutton said. “But if it doesn’t pass this time, we’ll be here next time, fighting the same fight, trying to make sure that Texas gets on the right page when it comes to our criminal justice system.”

The latest bills have just six weeks to make it through both chambers before the current legislative session ends.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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