First 2015 Death Penalty In Texas After Longest Hiatus In Decades


Texas is getting its first death row inmate of 2015, ending a 10-month hiatus in death sentences in the nation’s most active capital punishment state, the Associated Press reports. A Brazos County jury decided Wednesday that Gabriel Hall, 22, should be executed for an attack that left a man dead and his wife injured at the couple’s home 100 miles northwest of Houston. The lull in death sentences in Texas is similar to what other capital punishment states have experienced. The Texas hiatus is believed to be the longest the state has seen since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 effectively halted executions. The Death Penalty Information Center says 73 people nationwide were sentenced to die last year. In 1996, death rows added 315 inmates. In 1994, 49 inmates arrived on death row in Texas, nearly one a week. In 2000, the state executed 40 inmates.

Since then, courts have narrowed conditions for death sentences, such as exempting inmates with mental impairment or those younger than 18 when their crimes occurred. Juries considering death sentences in Texas in recent years have been given the option of life without parole. “That does matter,” said Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a California organization that supports the death penalty and focuses on crime victims. “That additional choice might make you accept life without parole when life with parole was not an acceptable choice. And it’s not a bad thing. We are supposed to be choosing the worst of the worst for the death penalty.” In Oklahoma, there have been so many problemss in carrying out executions that it’s hard to say whether the death penalty can continue there, said Gov. Mary Fallin, The Oklahoman reports. The latest error was revealed Wednesday with documents showing Oklahoma used the wrong drug to execute Charles Warner in January.

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