Letter: Death in Texas

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Sir: While I agree that the death penalty is barbaric and should be outlawed, your article ("Death row survivors call for abolition", 16 November) was a tad inaccurate.

Racial bias isn't usually to blame for death penalty convictions in Texas; the culprit is inadequate trial preparation coupled with overly emotional juries that are out for blood.

In this state, if you are to sit on a jury trying a capital offense, you must agree that the death penalty is a just punishment. If you disagree, you are dismissed. That is one strike against the defendant.

The prosecution spin a good story as well, playing on often ill-educated jurors' emotions. They show bloody crime scene photographs instead of presenting hard, cold evidence that the defendant committed the crime. Often defendants are convicted on hearsay. They range from black men to white women.

The quick pace of executions in the state of Texas is a result of popular opinion that the death penalty is just punishment and that it's cheaper than housing the inmates for the rest of their lives. Texans want these people disposed of quickly and efficiently. They have whittled down the appeals process to save money. When there is a high-profile case up for execution, Texans are almost baying for blood.

The death penalty enjoys a lot of support in the United States, and that will never change, unfortunately. This isn't racial bias; this is simply the will of the people.


Dallas, Texas