The State Affairs committee in the Texas House of Representatives recently held a public hearing on a bill to establish a moratorium on executions in Texas.
This is a *major* step forward.
According to a recent poll, almost 2/3rds of Texans believe that an innocent person has been executed in Texas. While some good bills have been introduced to improve the death penalty system, some serious flaws are not being addressed, such as racism and police or prosecutor misconduct. Nor will these bills benefit the men and women who are already on death row as the result of a system that the public no longer trusts.
Texas Moratorium Network is calling for a temporary halt on executions until a comprehensive study of the entire system is undertaken, and additional safeguards are implemented to prevent the wrongfully convicted from being executed.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please call at least one member of the State Affairs Committee (phone calls to legislative offices should be brief):
- thanking them for holding the hearing
- expressing how important it is to halt executions while so many problems in the Texas criminal justice system remain unresolved
- urging them to support and vote in favor of HB 720.
The members of the House State Affairs Committee are as follows (all area codes are 512):
Steve Wolens 463-0746
Sylvester Turner 463-0554
Kevin Bailey 463-0924
David Counts 463-0480
Debra Danburg 463-0504
John Longorio 463-0618
Ruth McClendon 463-0708
Tom Craddick 463-0500
Paul J. Hilbert 463-0572
Kim Brimer 463-0632
Kenny Marchant 463-0468
Bob Hunter 463-0718
Brian McCall 463-0594
Delwin Jones 463-0542
Tommy Merritt 463-0750
You may also want to call your own Representative, if she or he is not on the State Affairs Committee. If you don’t know who your Representative is, you can go to the following website:
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of this important legislation. If you have any questions, or get any interesting responses, feel free to email us, or call us at: 512.302.6715.
Since the United States Supreme Court decision to reinstate the death penalty in 1976, more than 240 prisoners have been executed in Texas, which is more than in any other state. Last year, Texas executed more prisonersthan in any previous year. Concerns exist regarding the possible execution of innocent individuals and are evidenced by recent initiatives on issues surrounding capital punishment, including the examination of the indigentdefense system, postconviction DNA testing of defendants, and sentencing alternatives. However, Texas does not currently conduct a comprehensive assessment and examination of its capital punishment system. House Bill 720 creates the Texas Capital Punishment Commission to study capital punishment in this state and places a two-year moratorium on all executions in the state.
House Bill 720 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to create the Texas Capital Punishment Commission (commission). The bill requires the commission to study capital punishment in this state, concentrating particularly on issues relating to the legal representation of inmates in capital cases, the certainty of the guilt of individuals convicted in capital cases, and the sufficiency of appellate review of convictions in capital cases. After completing the study, the bill requires the commission to propose legislation to correct any inequities in the capital punishment process in this state and to submit the proposed legislation to the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house of representatives not later than December 1, 2002. The bill also sets forth the composition of the commission, the necessary qualifications of commission members, and when they must be appointed.
H.B. 720 also prohibits the state from executing an inmate on or after September 1, 2001, and before September 1, 2003. The bill also provides that the commission is abolished on January 1, 2003, and that these provisions expire on that date.
EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.
Moratorium Bills Filed!
House Bill 720, filed by Rep. Dutton, a Democrat from Houston, calls for a moratorium and for a study to be conducted during the period in which executions are halted. It has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee. He has also filed House Joint Resolution 56, which calls for a Constitutional Amendment declaring a moratorium. HJR 56 has been referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. And Rep. Naishtatt, a Democrat from Austin, has filed HJR 59, which calls for a Constitutional Amendment granting the Governor the power to establish a moratorium on executions. Soon, there will be a Senate version of a moratorium bill, and yet another version may also be filed in the House.
The next step is a hearing on a moratorium.
We are asking supporters to call your Texas State Representative and State Senator and ask them to cosponsor or otherwise support *any* legislation that calls for a moratorium on executions in Texas. If your State Representative is on the State Affairs or Criminal Jurisprudence committees, please urge them to see to it that moratorium legislation gets a full and public hearing.
If you don’t know who your state legislators are, you can find out by going to the following website: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm
Thank you again for your support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. With your help, we have made great progress, and we will not cease of efforts until the moratorium is a reality. If you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us at: 512-302-6715
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
We hope that you will join us in this fight for fairness and social justice.Please join our email list and become one of the more than 20,000 people receiving information through our network.