Texas Leads Nation in Executions

By Gislaine Williams, ACLU of Texas Outreach Coordinator

Texas continues to lead the nation in executions, according to end-of-year reports from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP).

The DPIC reports 43 total executions around the country in 2012, with 75% of them carried out in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Mississippi.  This constituted the second lowest number of executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Texas carried out 15 executions, the highest in the country. The executions included the controversial case of Marvin Wilson, who was declared intellectually disabled and executed despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that executing the mentally disabled is unconstitutional.

Six inmates received stays of execution.  The executions were stopped pending review of DNA evidence, the mental competency of the inmates, and claims related to ineffective legal counsel. Three people received reduced sentences and were taken off death row.

The TCADP report found that the use of the death penalty is geographically isolated to only a few counties in the state. There were nine new death sentences this year, over half coming from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  Texas jurors in 4 capital cases rejected the death penalty, choosing to sentence defendants to life without the possibility of parole.

TCADP also highlighted the arbitrary nature of the death penalty in Texas and the disproportionate impact on African-American and Hispanic defendants. Over the last five years, 75% of new death sentences have been given to people of color.

Read the full report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review

Since 1982, Texas has executed a total of 492 people – 253 of the executions were carried out under Governor Rick Perry. There are seven executions already scheduled for 2013, starting with the January 29th scheduled execution of Kimberly McCarthy.

Take Action

Attend the ACLU of Texas Symposium & Lobby Day Feb 10th & 11th in Austin to call for changes in the Texas criminal justice system. Click here to sign-up.

Send a letter to the editor of your local community newspaper demanding for an end to the death penalty in Texas.

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