Unlike Oklahoma, Texas Prides Itself On Efficient Executions


If Texas executes Robert Campbell today as planned for raping and murdering a woman, it will be the nation's first execution since Oklahoma’s bungled attempt at lethal injection two weeks ago left a convicted murderer writhing and moaning before he died. The New York Times says Campbell’s attorneys are trying to use the Oklahoma debacle to stop his execution. Many in this state and Huntsville, north of Houston, where hundreds have been executed in the nation's busiest death chamber, say they do things right.

For two years, Texas has used a single drug, the barbiturate pentobarbital, instead of the three-drug regimen used in neighboring Oklahoma. Prison administrators from other states often travel here to learn how Texas performs lethal injections and to observe executions. Texas officials have provided guidance and, on at least a few occasions, carried out executions for other states. Huntsville is the capital of capital punishment. All of the 515 men and women Texas has executed since 1982 by lethal injection and all of the 361 inmates it electrocuted from 1924 to 1964 were killed here. Texas accounts for nearly 40 percent of the nation's executions. Some of those who condemn the state grudgingly agree that it kills with efficiency. “Texas's death chamber is a well-honed machine,” said Robert Perkinson, the author of “Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire,” a critical history of the Texas prison system.

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