Posts by: "Texas Moratorium Network"

The chair of the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence has endorsed ending the death penalty. He sent out an email today copied below that links to his article entitled”

“It’s time to get rid of the death penalty in Texas

Today, the Texas Tribune published an op-ed I wrote about the death penalty. My views on capital punishment have evolved in my eight years making statewide criminal justice policy on the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and my years as both a prosecutor and defense attorney outside of that. After a long time weighing the costs-financial and moral-of putting a person to death, considering the times our state has gotten it wrong, and reviewing the procedural deficiencies that still plague us (especially when it comes to offenders suffering from serious mental illness or intellectual and developmental disability), I’ve come to believe that Texas is better than the death penalty. It’s time for change.
I encourage you to read the article in its entirety here , but you’ll find some excerpts below.

Onward,
Signature

Joe Moody
State Representative | District 78
“Texas has long had the dubious distinction of being a leader in capital punishment, which has also made it a leader in litigation which has exposed many constitutional and practical problems in our system. It’s a shameful fact that we’ve occasionally executed the innocent and frequently applied the death penalty unevenly to the guilty, including to people suffering from serious mental illnesses and significant intellectual and developmental disabilities, an explicit focus of our recent hearing.”

“We apply the death penalty too broadly and very inconsistently. Procedures vary wildly between the state’s 254 different counties, and many people face death who constitutionally shouldn’t – like those who were seriously mentally ill at the time of their offenses and those who had only minor roles in a crime. We’ve even let what we’ve later found to be junk science sway juries into handing down death sentences and then provided few ways to challenge those verdicts afterwards.”

“From any moral standpoint, we all know that mercy is a show of strength, not weakness. Executions by the state put us on a short list with the likes of North Korea, Iran, and China,  far out of step with the bastions of democracy and freedom we call allies. Texas is better than capital punishment.”

“Most of all, though, I regret the cost that can’t be measured in money. We lose a piece of ourselves with every unnecessary killing; we lower ourselves morally. Something that resonated at our hearing was the testimony of Shane Claiborne, pastor and author of the fantastic book Executing Grace. ‘The death penalty isn’t about whether a person deserves to die,’ he said, ‘but whether we deserve to kill.'”

“We must set aside anger and fear and embrace grace. I encourage Texans to keep open minds and open hearts, give some serious thought to this issue, and join me in the growing bipartisan effort to end capital punishment in this state.”

Watch the episode of Death Row Stories about Sabrina Butler. Sabrina was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. She is listed as number 59 on the The Innocence List maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center. She was instrumental in convincing a Texas State Senator to file a bill to abolish the death penalty, when she and exoneree Ron Keine, both of Witness to Innocence came to Texas for our Lobby Day in 2015 to share their stories at a press conference and by visiting and talking to a bunch of legislators and their aides, including the Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr, who filed the abolition bill a couple of weeks after she and Ron asked him to file it.

 
 

Ami Lyn White, left, Murder Victim Family Member. Ami remembers being told that her mother, Cathy, was murdered when she was five. She speaks to the pain and despair that she felt then and in the years since. She recognizes that “those on death row and those who are executed have families too, those family members, those children experience the same kind of pain and devastation that I felt. To me, the most premeditated murder of all is the death penalty. It only creates more victims, more heartache, more pain.”

Murder victim family members opposed to the death penalty on a journey of hope together with exonerated former death row prisoners.

Randy Gardner wearing some prison clothes of his brother, Ronnie, who was executed by firing squad in Utah in 2010.

George White, right, who was wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder before being later declared innocent and released.
Dr. Jack Sullivan, bottom left, whose life and leadership have been forever influenced by the 1997 murder of his younger sister, Jennifer. In the traumatic days, weeks and months that followed Jennifer’s untimely death, his family steadfastly rejected any notion that the killer(s) be sentenced to death if apprehended. No one was ever arrested in Jennifer’s death.

 

Derrick Jamison, left, an innocent man who spent nearly 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a murder and robbery he did not commit. Shujaa Graham, right, acquitted five years after being sent to death row in 1976.

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