Study Finds Shortcomings In Texas Death Penalty System

A new study by the American Bar Association finds that the Texas death penalty system is inadequate when it comes to fairness and eliminating the risk of wrongful execution.


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The Texas Capital Punishment Assessment team was made up of former judges, prosecutors, elected officials and legal scholars, like Professor Jennifer Laurin at the University of Texas School of Law. She chaired the team that prepared the report:
“The structural features of our system insulate and exacerbate predictable missteps at early stages.”   

Since 1989, there have been 132 Texas executions overturned, including those of 12 people who were on death row, like Anthony Graves. He was exonerated and released in 2010 after spending 14 years on death row, for a crime he did not commit.

“There are many people in prison for many different reasons. Some because they’re innocent and just couldn’t afford a competent attorney to represent their rights during trial.” 

Former Texas Gov. Mark White, was another member of the assessment team. 19 executions occurred during his term as governor. He said the goal of the report was not to call into question the use of the death penalty in Texas, but to ensure that it is implemented fairly.

“Much needs to be done to correct the problems we have in Texas, to bring into the 21st Century and also, to the propriety of the death sentence under any circumstance.”

The report calls on Texas to create a commission to investigate each of the state’s wrongful convictions, identify factors that contributed to them and consider ways to fix the problems through legislation or other policy changes.

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