ABA Assails TX Death Penalty System, Says State “Appears Out of Step”


Texas has improved its criminal justice system after dozens of exonerations, but the American Bar Association says the death penalty system still falls far short when it comes to fairness and eliminating the risk of executing the innocent, says the Texas Tribune. “In many areas, Texas appears out of step with better practices implemented in other capital jurisdictions, fails to rely upon scientifically reliable methods and processes in the administration of the death penalty and provides the public with inadequate information to understand and evaluate capital punishment in the state,” the ABA says.

The ABA report, which outlines recommendations to improve the system, is part of a national project examining the death penalty. While it praises Texas for improvements intended to increase fairness, the report says much work remains. The ABA says its recommendations would restore public confidence in the system and help ensure that Texans aren’t wrongfully sentenced to death. Those include requiring the indefinite preservation of biological evidence in violent crimes, abandoning the evaluation of “future dangerousness,” banning the execution of those with mental retardation and mental illness and establishing an innocence commission to examine the lessons of wrongful convictions. Since 1989, 132 Texas convictions have been overturned, including those of 12 people who were on death row, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

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