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October-16-00

Texas Executions Receive Little Consideration by Bush

Texas executes more people than any other state. Since 1976, 232 people have been executed—the state with the next highest death count was Virginia with 80. Under George W. Bush’s five years of “compassionate conservatism” as Texas Governor, 145 people have been put to death. Bush wrote in his autobiography of the fact-weighing and careful decision-making he put in to his decisions to proceed with executions. However, according to copies of Bush’s schedules and correspondence obtained through Texas public-information laws, Bush’s 9 to 5 workday, interrupted by a 2-hour lunch, is primarily filled with photo opportunities, interviews and meetings with school groups. His schedules revealed a time-span of about 15 minutes spent deciding whether or not a person should die for the crime he or she has committed. After speaking of his legacy of capital punishment during a presidential debate, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert commented, “There was a disturbing, upbeat quality to the governor’s tone as he [spoke]. His face brightened in a way that was unsettling to much of the nation. He was so obviously and inappropriately pleased.”

More disturbing than Bush’s imprudence when deciding to end a person’s life are the rampant injustices that exist within the Texas capital punishment system. According to a report released by the Texas Defender Service, 25 percent of murder victims in Texas are black, but only .4 percent of prisoners executed in Texas are punished for murdering black victims. The report also found that mentally handicapped prisoners are often given inexperienced court-appointed lawyers; appeals processes are often impeded while execution dates are hastened, and in 84 cases Texas police falsified evidence.

Media Resources: Washington Post – October 16, 2000; New York Times – October 16, 2000

   

     

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