The Death Penalty: Wrongfully Executed

Texas: Capital of The Death Penalty

The state of Texas is known for "big" things. Big horns, big state fairs, big amusement parks and big parties. It is also a very big state. (try driving across Texas, from Beaumont to El Paso) But, the state of Texas is also big on something else. The Death Penalty! From 1976 to the present, the state of Texas has executed 441 people on death row. That means the state of Texas has accounted for more than one-third of all modern-day executions in the United States. There are approximately 340 inmates on death row. In 2008, the state of Texas executed 18 individuals. In 2007, 42 inmates were executed in the United States, 26 of them were in Texas. ( And no, they didn't ship anybody in from another state for Texas to execute.) These are not just numbers, these are statistical facts. Staggering numbers to say the least. What really makes this number look even worse, is the number of people who are being exonerated from prison for crimes they had been wrongfully convicted of.

" It is no secret," says a lawyer from San Antonio. " The state of Texas hands out the death penalty, like candy at a kids party." Texas has earned a reputation as a state that will enforce the death penalty. He said, " If you look from 1990 to the present, you will see some numbers that will amaze you about the executions in Texas during that period." He was right, those numbers are amazing. From 1992 to 1996, there were 65 executions. An average of 13 executions per year. These numbers are not even mentionable if you look at the numbers following those years. The period from 1997-2002 ( 6 years) there were 182 executions in Texas. An average of 30 inmates per year were executed. Those numbers sent a chill up my spine. Then, from 2003 to the present, there have been 152 executed inmates.

I am not a judge, so I have never had to make the decision on whether a man lives or dies for his "accused" crimes. Fortunately, I have never had to serve on a jury that is being pressured to recommend the death penalty. But, with all of the exoneration's, one would have to start second guessing the system. For any judge or jury member who had any doubt about a trial they were involved in that resulted in the death penalty for the defendant, well, imagine how they feel now after this exoneration program has saved some of the wrongfully convicted. Just imagine  how it must feel to even think that you have convicted and killed the wrong person.

A Trial of Fire: Executed

Capital punishment has become a controversial issue. The case of Cameron Todd Willingham has only added fuel to the fire when discussing the death penalty. In 1991, Willingham was accused of killing his three young daughters by arson. He was executed for these crimes on Feb. 17, 2004. An arson expert had a report that brought serious questioning about the quality of the arson investigation which convicted Willingham. This report was sent to Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, but he refused to issue a 30-day reprieve for Willingham.

Since the execution, other fire experts have reviewed the evidence in the Willingham case and came to the same conclusion. The fire was a accident. Perry, acting like a criminal, released the chairman and two members of the State Forensic Science Commission. It just so happens that they were to begin holding hearings on the evidence in the case. Seems there is something to hide. Perry will not comment on why they did not issue a reprieve, when requested in the Willingham case. His only responses have been that Willingham is a "monster", he was less than an admirable father and husband. Are those grounds to execute any man? If you can execute a man for being deficient in those departments, then, the divorce and child support courts would not be so over-whelmed with cases.

Perry does a questionable job as Governor. Now he is calling any scientist who refutes the evidence in the Willingham case, " supposed experts". He is the Governor, but, when did being the Governor make you a forensic science expert? The same Governor who turned down stimulus money for the state.( That's another story in itself. )

Gerald Hurst, is a arson expert. His findings have exonerated more than 10 people. Hurst, got Willingham's friend, Ernest Willis exonerated for a similar arson charge. Willis was set free and the attorney general was quoted saying, " I don't turn Killers loose. If Willis was guilty, I'd be trying him right now. And I'd use Hurst as my witness. He is a brilliant scientist." So, It has to make you think, did the Governor feel that he gave them one, now, give him one. As far fetch as that may seem, it is possible. That has always been the rumor amongst those involved in the legal battle.

The Evidence in the End

Experts have reviewed the evidence against Willingham. " The conclusion is unescapable, Willingham was innocent. There can no longer be any doubt that a innocent man has been executed." With mistakes like this, can we continue to use the death penalty? One wrongful death is one too many. The investigations was not efficient. Willingham's trial took two days. Only two days to convict a man of killing his babies by arson. Death by Lethal Injection was his punishment. A man who turned down a plea deal, that would lower his sentence to life in prison. After 13 years of being accused and convicted of killing his daughters, was a 30 day reprieve to much to ask for. If there was any evidence that could probably prove that Willingham was not the "monster" he was made out to be, 30 days should have at least been allowed. Instead we are left with the sour end of the deal, a man executed for being accused of being, " a monster ", " a less than admirable father and husband".

The Final Conclusion

The state of Texas has executed 441 inmates since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. From the year of 1990 to the present, there have been 424 executions in Texas. How many of those executed, were innocent? No, we can't change the past, but, in order to change the "future", we must reflect on the past mistakes. " How do you know where you are going, if you don't know where you have been."

The death penalty is a touchy subject for some. For some it means justice, peace, closure and even payback. Those who have been allowed to witness the executions of someone who have committed a horrible crime against their family have said that it doesn't bring closure. It doesn' satisfy that void that has been left in their life.

One thing is for sure, if the death penalty is going to continue to be used as punishment for "horrible" crimes. Then the sytems needs to be checked, double checked and triple checked, before we start that "lethal drip" down an IV, into the blood stream of a possibly innocent man or woman.

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Comments 20 comments

Lifes Joke profile image

Lifes Joke 7 years ago

I don't agree with the death penalty at all because it doesn't make since to me to kill someone for killing someone else...on top of that people think that it is less expensive to give the death penalty then to let people rot in prison (which may be the case in Texas) but it takes years and lots of money for people to exhaust their appeals and everything else...I believe another state that does speedy executions is Alabama..but i would have to check again to find out...i really enjoyed reading your the way thanx for commenting my poem...

barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 7 years ago from Queensland Australia

You bring to the reader important and valuable facts...

christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 7 years ago from Dallas Texas

Excellent article. I am a former corrections officer and always tried to treat my inmates as human beings with dignity and respect. I live in Texas and am ashamed of our policy of so many hasty executions. The fact tha "Cameron had to sit in prison knowing he did not kill his children, then to have his life taken when Perry knew he was innocent is a disgrace. Rick Perry should be fired and face criminal charges. He thinks he is God. He is incompetent and proud of the fact we execute so many.

Warmest Regards, Christal

KLWILLIAMS75 7 years ago

I will not lie, I am one who believes if someone commits a brutal crime, I would seek the death penalty. I do believe that all is innocent till proven guilty. What I want to ask is "has anyone ever been a victim that survived a brutal crie or one that has lost a love one to a brutal crime. Judges do not just hand out judgement they rely on the public to come forth with the trueth and then they do their job and it is just that a job. Giude lines have been put in place to even be scensed for what ever. So ask yourself do I do all that I can to serve my public, have I ever turned my back to something that I knew was wrong and happening right before me, because I was scared or just to lazy to get involved? I am sorry for the man in the story but it was not the system that failed him, it was the people. I am sure in that office someone saw the wrong doing that was going on and turned their backs. That person is the real criminal. I am sure when that mans girls died in the fire a part of him died with him and when they accused him the rest of him died as well, the injection was just God bringing him home. I have traveled to diffrenet cuntries where crime is only frowned upon, nothing really done. I promised myslef I will never go back there, so to all that tend to judge the wrong doing of the system - looking the mirror and ask yourself what have you done lately.

Angst 6 years ago

In my utopia, every one who orders or carries out a murder or a death sentence has the decency to commit suicide and rid society of their filth. Be it criminal, judge, executioner, jury, or lawyer. A wrongful death sentence would have a similarly satisfying conclusion for all parties involved. One would think that with twelve jurors, a judge, and two attorneys, people would have the decency and care not to mishandle such a case. Or even the moral decency to not be able to sleep at night until there wasn't a shadow of a doubt. The slimeballs know who they are. Deep down inside, they know what its costing them, too.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Capital punishment in and of itself is abominable. When it is applied to an innocent person there is no word to describe the travesty of justice.

lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 6 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Great hub. The death penalty is so 15th century. I cannot believe that human minds have not progressed and evolved further than eye for an eye. Just knowing that an innocent person could be executed is reason enough not to have capital punishment. Even with science and DNA we will still have human error. Just because some of us do not want to become murderers along with the convicted killer by "killing him/her back", doesn't mean that we are pro crime. It is not now, nor will it ever be, in my psyche, character or judgment to murder another human being for any reason what so ever, especially revenge, even if the state does it for me. (PAID HITMEN)

C.J. Wright 6 years ago

Enjoyed the article. Well written. I support the death penalty. Texas is a large state. Its not surprising that a conservative, right leaning state would execute more people.

Here is where I worry. Obviously there is "new science" out there that has been used to both convict and exonerate the accused. DNA, do we know what it means? Specifically what does a DNA match mean? Expert witness, what is that? Do we know what constitutes an expert witness? Is it field specific? Does it matter if a person derives MOST of his/her income from being an "expert" vice actually working in the field?

I would recommend the book "Tainting Evidence" to anyone who thinks they understand these terms. It's a real eye opener.

I wonder, is their a direct relationship to Texas' murder rate ant it's executions. In other words, per cap, does Texas' experience fewer capital crimes and can that be attributed to it's capital punnishment policy?

acanderson24 profile image

acanderson24 6 years ago Author


Thanks for stopping thru...I had an opportunity to read "Tainting Evidence". It was an eye opener. It kind of played a part into this write. I support the death penalty. When there is a "horrible" crime, everyone wants the culprit to be captured and punished. Sometimes the pressure of doing so causes a lack in judgment and judicial process. We just want someone punished. What is crazy about that is that when there is a case that is clear cut, the culprit will be given all of the benefit of the doubt....As much as we want to deter criminal acts...I would hate to think that just because I was seen in the area...evidence to prove my innocence can br "brushed" aside and I could be convicted and executed. I heard a lawyer say, " Experts are experts when they are in your favor, no matter what it is. Even if an "expert" cook likes a dish you made. But, when an expert is against you, the first thing you will say is who made him an expert on the topic." is for real....


trina 6 years ago

My brother was murdered in 2003 yet I still do not believe in the death penalty. Who amongst men is fit to condemn another to death the wages for sin is death only God can pass judgment.

acanderson24 profile image

acanderson24 6 years ago Author

Trina....Sorry for your loss....I have spoke with some people who have actually witnessed an execution. They said they didn't feel any different. It didn't fill that void left, by losing a love one.....Unfortunately, I don't see America changing its stance on the death penalty anytime soon.


Frank 6 years ago

I think that if someone is executed wrong fully the judge that gave him the death penalty should get the same penalty if he makes a mistake!!! I would bet that any judge would not hand out a death penalty if he could get the same penalty if he was wrong....

thereeper211 5 years ago

Man has not bean given the rite to kill GOD'S chilldern, His son died for ower sins.

To kill a man is as if you have killed all mankind, to save a man is as if you have saved all mankind.

Thows hoom have killed GOD'S chilldren will have to face GOD in the end. I pray for the DEAD.

Mrs. J. B. profile image

Mrs. J. B. 5 years ago from Southern California

I am for the Death Penalty. However I learned after doing much research that it costs the taxpayers more money to execute them than it does to pay 23,000 plus health insurance a year to keep them incarcerated. Right now in Cali there are over 700 inmates on death row. Why put them on death row if they are not going to executed?

I do agree with you though when you say the state needs to make absolutely 100% sure that they are convicting the right man.

NorthernDancer 5 years ago

Very much enjoyed your article. Being Canadian, i find Capital Punishment tragic, barbaric, and a relic of the dark ages. Even in a clear cut caught-on-video, in-front-of-a-crowd sort of case it isn't acceptable. Not only is the system SO flawed that these cases drag on for more than a decade, but making a person walk to their own death is cruel and unusual punishment in its purest form. Capital Punishment has been proven not to be a deterrent. Nor does it rehabilitate. All it does is create MORE victims. People are inherently greedy. We WANT retribution, but against whom? The criminal? What about the loved ones of the criminal? His wife? His mother? His children? Their grief will be exponentially larger than ours for they are dragged along this 10 year death process along with the criminals. Are human beings SO callous and barbaric that they can ignore the collective anguish of everyone surrounding a death row inmate simply only to satisfy their own blood lust. Only when we distance ourselves from our perceived right to retribution will our corrections system evolve from the pathetic state that it is to what it was designed for:

1) Punishment; repayment; and most importantly for the sake of the betterment of society: rehabilitation.

As for retribution? Well... as Ghandi so eloquently stated: An eye for an eye will eventually make the whole world blind.

Susan 5 years ago

All are really good comments that carry alot sound reasoning.

My question is? Can you personally be the one to pull the plug and end a life? Or is it OK to condemn someone to death so long as someone else does it?

Quddus profile image

Quddus 5 years ago

Very informative hub. The death penalty is controversial for certain, but some cases are just tragic.

sligobay profile image

sligobay 4 years ago from east of the equator

Your article is well presented and demonstrates that you write as clearly as you think.

Hot Lips 4 years ago

Iam for the death penalty. But while I was reading your article I was still for it, but you should have given him life without parole because if he did kill his daughters then wakening up everyday in his cell that is torture in itself. The reason I'm saying this is because if a parent kills his kids then he should live through that pain for the rest of his or her life that's the only time I'm against the death penalty. They made their kids suffered so keeping them alive and living the rest of their day in a cell and having that on their mind is making them suffer, but other killings then I'm all for the death penalty.

ann 4 years ago

Who are we to deside whether a person is really guilty or innocent. Most people in this world right now are fucked and they deside , thats scary. Do you know how many innocent people are probably in jail. Plus to be the person to kill the prisoner is murdering too. If they go to hell so will the person killing them. It's not an eye for an eye , thats what carma's for. It's sad when you see someone they let out after years in jail that are innocent. SAD. Life wasted.

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