Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Death Penalty Reprieve in Texas

CNN reported today that the Texas Governor granted a 120 day reprieve to a black woman convicted of murder 17 years ago. The reason this made headlines is that it is only the third reprieve granted by the governor since he took office in 2000. The other two were 30 day reprieves, and the executions went forward after the 30 days.

I suppose there are those who will applaud this, but even granting the morality and effectiveness of the death penalty (which I do not), Is it really possible that there hasn’t been one single case where clemency or commuting the sentence to life might have been appropriate, or merciful?

Of the 944 executions nationally since 1976, 336 of them, more than one third, have been in the state of Texas alone.

With the previous information regarding red/blue states, I wondered how the execution totals compared by state. 842 of the 944 executions have been in southern or western “Red” states, and the top 12 states for executions were all “Red”. I guess the concept of mercy is not part of the “Moral Values” we hear so much about.

Given that the murder rate is also higher in all those states, it also calls into question the usefulness of the death penalty. The south, where those executions took place, had the highest murder rate of any region, at 6.9 per 100,000 in 2003. The “immoral” northeast had a murder rate of 4.2 per 100,000, the lowest of any region.

See the Camus quote at the top of this page.

On the whole, I think I’ll stick with the Northeast, liberal, interpretation of moral values.

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