Understanding Texas justice as a capital milestone approaches
Reuters has this new piece, entitled "Religion, culture behind Texas execution tally," which provides some background on why Texas stands alone as the leading state for the application of the death penalty. Here are a few excerpts:
August 13, 2007 at 11:57 AM | Per
Texas will almost certainly hit the grim total of 400 executions this month, far ahead of any other state, testament to the influence of the state's conservative evangelical Christians and its cultural mix of Old South and Wild West.
"In Texas you have all the elements lined up. Public support, a governor that supports it and supportive courts," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "If any of those things are hesitant then the process slows down," said Dieter. "With all cylinders working as in Texas it produces a lot of executions."
Texas has executed 398 convicts since it resumed the practice in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment, far exceeding second-place Virginia with 98 executions since the ban was lifted. It has five executions scheduled for August.
The average time spent on death row before execution is about 10 years, not much less than the national average of closer to 11 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. But the average would be considerably longer if Texas were excluded.