Modern states tend to keep meticulous records. This bureaucratic penchant lets us see how truly bizarre one aspect of the Texas justice system is. Thanks to a chart prepared by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, I can tell you that: since 1982 209 people have received capital punishment at the hands of that state; I could even tell you their “races,” as if that mattered. Another chart, this listing information on all executed offenders, will give you a photograph of the convict, some scanty information about the crime that led to execution, and the executed person’s “last statement.” Other pages on the death row part of the Department of Criminal Justice site list scheduled executions, executions by year, and the media representatives who witnessed the deaths.
Yet, despite this interest in facts, Texas has been unwilling to postpone the execution of Mr. Skinner in order to complete the DNA tests his supporters and opponents of the death penalty have been asking for, DNA tests that hold out the prospect of exonerating him. This Associate Press story will give you the story clearly.
Perhaps my title is wrong. Perhaps the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, will step in to postpone the execution, scheduled to be carried out this evening. In what is either a hopeful sign or a terribly sad incongruity, at this moment the web page for the Office of the Governor has as a lead story and photo the governor’s grant of a posthumous pardon for a man who died in prison and who, DNA tests subsequently proved, was innocent of the crime of which he was convicted.
Texas killed 24 convicts last year, pretty much the same as it has each year for the past dozen years.