If Lonnie Johnson is executed today, he will be the 100th person executed from Harris County. Click here to write Governor Perry to protest this execution. We are hoping that he will get a stay, because it is likely that Johnson, who is African-American, may have acted in self-defense after being the victim of a hate crime.
Amnesty International has published a report on Harris County. Here is a link to a PDF file of the entire report:
One county, 100 executions
Harris County and Texas — A lethal combination
“One of the cruelest anomalies of the modern system of capital punishment: Geography means everything“, Houston Chronicle.
In 1969, “Houston” became the first word to be spoken by a human being on the moon, beginning astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous message back to earth. Four decades later, the City of Houston, or rather Harris County where both the city and NASA’s Johnson Space Center are located, has gained international notoriety for something that pushes the boundaries of human decency rather than space exploration.
For, while Texas is the execution centre of the USA, Harris County is that state’s main supplier of condemned human beings. This is a lethally symbiotic relationship that helps to create geographic bias in the US capital justice system on a grand scale.
Harris County is the third largest county in the United States, with a population of a little under four million inhabitants, or about 1.3 per cent of the US population. Between one and two per cent of the USA’s murders each year occur in Harris County. About four per cent of the country’s current death row inmates were tried in Harris County. Nine per cent of the men and 18 per cent of the women executed in the United States since judicial killing resumed there in 1977 were condemned to death in Harris County.
Ninety-seven men and two women prosecuted in Harris County have been put to death since Texas carried out its first execution of the “modern” era in 1982. At the time of writing, Lonnie Johnson was set to become the 100th such prisoner to be put to death, his execution scheduled for 24 July 2007. Johnny Connor was set to become the 101st on 22 August and Michael Richards the 102nd on 25 September.
If Harris County was a state, it would rank 26th in population among the US states, one above Oregon. Oregon has executed two people since 1977, both of whom had given up their appeals. There are about three of four times as many murders each year in Harris County as there are in Oregon, but Harris County accounts for 50 times as many executions as that west coast state. Indeed, if Harris County was a state, it would rank second only to Texas in the number of executions carried out since 1977.