Many of us familiar with the recent developments regarding the infamous Texas Death Penalty Machine can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Since 1976 when Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) reversed it earlier prohibition of the death penalty, Texas has always held its top record of executions with pride (the very dangerous sin and weakness).
In a world more perfect than our own there are maybe some very remote reasons to have a death penalty as there are some (very few) crimes which must be punished accordingly. To most rational the psychopathic serial killers, the terrorist with explosives fetish and others throughout history that have committed mass genocide should be permanently removed from human society. Those are indeed very horrible crimes that must be punished (avenged?) very harshly. But there are a few realities that make this remote.
First let’s look at whom is on the infamous Texas Death Row. Most of them are male minorities that have learned the most important lesson of the courtroom. The reality is that wealth and not responsibility determines outcome. If we look hard enough we will find that as a result of this, there are many innocent people on death row (and replete throughout the carnage of the criminal justice system). The most recent statistic that I have heard is that for every 10 executions that TX has carried out, 1 person has been exonerated and released from death row. AI23 has even had a press conference with TCADP a few months ago about a paper I researched and put together indicating that there have been at least 13 innocent people executed in the United States (7 in TX). I am sure that there are many more that even the experts do not know about. Appropriate that we ask this question on the anniversary of the funeral of Troy Davis, "How is justice served by executing someone innocent?" Those sound like mutually exclusive concepts.
The second reality that we should note is that the desire to avenge even these most horrendous crimes with the homicide of the perpetrator is not sufficient to reincarnate the victim. No execution carried out in the name of justice in the history of the world (that I am aware of) has resulted in reincarnating the victims (or any reincarnation period). I feel very solid in predicting the future or looking into my crystal ball that such a reality is unlikely to change.
The third reality is the corruption within ourselves that the death penalty creates. We are punishing a behavior with the same behavior.
However this is all about to change within the next few weeks. So, those of you who have been keeping up with the Texas Death Penalty Machine will know that it is running out of fuel. The specific drugs that Texas Department of Criminal justice uses in its executions are set to expire in September (no specific date provided). TDCJ has already carried out one of two
executions scheduled for September and the other (Arturo Diaz) is set for two days from now. There is still much speculation about what TDCJ plans to do with the upcoming executions for the fall. There are a few scheduled for October and November while the attorney general continues to set execution dates. If TDCJ has no execution drugs to perform the executions specific to the information and instructions on the death warrants, do the execution dates just pass and are rescheduled? Is TDCJ responsible for sending the warrants back to the attorney general or courts saying they can’t administer the warrants? What is TDCJ’s plan for the fall?
My speculation for the long term is that TDCJ will try to find alternative drugs (which could take months of research, politics, negotiation and additional funding) or another method of execution (which would take at least two years before our legislature reconvenes to enact such a statute). Both of these are unlikely to produce any results within the next year at best considering how difficult these drugs are to get, the reluctance of the drug manufacturing companies and the inflexible budget. I also cant imagine in our modern society TX passing a law over the fierce opposition of abolitionists that brings back the electric chair or some other primitive means. The rational people would like to think that we are more intelligent that brutal bloodshed. The use of compounding pharmacies (let’s just make it ourselves in the back lab) doesn’t sound very promising either.
So to our allies against the death penalty, have we effectively won at least part of the battle against the death penalty? What good are statutes and laws if (even with the death penalty) if they can’t be carried out?