Former Texas Governor Mark White has said he supports a moratorium on executions, but the Texas Observer asked Democratic gubernatorial nominee candidate Bill White (no relation to Mark) and Bill said he does not support a moratorium. We will try to meet with him to explain why Texas needs a moratorium. The Texas Democratic Party endorsed a moratorium in the party platform in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
A moratorium is the best way to ensure that Texas does not execute an innocent person and that reforms are enacted to make sure that an innocent person is never again executed in Texas. If Texas had enacted a moratorium in 2003, then Todd Willingham would not have been executed in 2004.
The Observer did not ask Democratic gubernatorial nominee candidate Farouk Shami for his opinion on a moratorium, but Shami’s website says that he does support a moratorium.
I’m sure you’re very familiar with the dustup last fall over the Forensic Science Commission. Do you believe that Gov. Perry was engaging in a cover-up when he moved to replace commission members right before they were starting hearings on whether Cameron Todd Willingham was wrongly executed? It certainly looks wrong, and there’s something inconsistent with a governor who now says that he’ll defer to experts on his plans to greatly expand the governor’s mansion and destroy its historical integrity, while at the same time saying that he won’t defer to experts on issues such as forensic science.
Given the information the governor had about questionable forensics that convicted Willingham, should he have halted the execution before he went forward? I haven’t looked at all the details on that case, but if I was governor I would appoint people to boards involving pardon and paroles, and the Forensic Science Commission, who would represent the values of this state—and in the case of forensic science, who are experts. And I would rely on the judgment of those people.
Do you support the death penalty? Yes.
Do you support a moratorium on executions, as former Gov. Mark White has suggested, until we can ensure that Texas is not executing innocent people? No. I think it ought to depend on a case-by-case basis and not be a moratorium across the board.
How would you handle your review of these cases differently from what Gov. Perry has done? Where there is a question about the forensic science, I would listen to the scientists.