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August 30, 2007

A hot August for the Texas death chamber

As TalkLeft notes here, Texas has executed defendants each of the last two days and has another execution scheduled for tonight.  StandDown Texas has more here on last night's execution, and also spotlights this New York Times piece which explains why tonight's scheduled execution of Kenneth Foster is garnering particular attention.

With its many executions in August, Texas now has been responsible for nearly 2/3 of all executions in the US in 2007.  (DPIC has the stats here.)  Of course, Texas has long been a  national leader in the application of the death penalty, but lethal injection litigation and other forces have now resulted in Texas having an even larger role in the modern American story of capital punishment.  Indeed, there may be a record low number of executions this year in states other than Texas, but Texas may kill enough defendants to cause national statistics to show an increase in total US executions in 2007.

August 30, 2007 at 08:00 AM | Permalink


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Well, the question is, “Is it too many?” Most people say that it isn’t enough!

As far as I can tell, people agree that unlike other Americans, Texans are either “born bad” or will only respond to threats of death in order to control themselves. Without so many executions, Texans would be even MORE violent then they currently are, and they would spread outside the geographic confines of Texas and injure other Americans with their behavior.

So, you see, killing often is the only solution for the “Texas Problem.” (Better education, and a “Big Brother/Big Sister” program is too expensive and not proven to work.) I am still concerned that Texans might escape, because there is no wall protecting Texas from Oklahoma.

Posted by: S.cotus | Aug 30, 2007 8:29:28 AM

Kenneth Foster is the latest "innocence" cause du jour. (Funny how malleable the term "innocence" has become--it now means "non-triggerman", or "I-can-drive-around-follow-someone-for-miles-after-we've-been-"jacking"-and-then-disclaim-responsibility-when-the-"jacking"-of-a-person-I've-been-following-goes-bad.") Pathetic. It's not quite as bad as Daroyce Mosley's claim that he was innocent because his uncle forced him to shoot four people, nor is it as evil as suggesting that the two victims were racist and were killed in self-defense against all the facts--including the inconvenient fact that the two victims were more than a football field apart (Lonnie Johnson), but it's laughable all the same (well, laughable from a strictly intellectual perspective, the fact that this BS is actually given credence is sad). The facts of this case, other than the fact that people are now treating the felons' word about when their conspiracy ended as gospel truth, are pretty straightforward, namely that the driver of a car full of thugs is being held responsible for a murder because he was driving around looking for victims to "jack" (i.e., pull up to someone and have one or two of the cohorts stick a gun in the victims' faces) and, quelle surprise, someone wound up being shot because he couldn't comply with the orders to give up his car keys and wallet fast enough. Chalk it up to the catch-all "death is different", which I guess allows lawyers to argue, in briefs, that someone can facilitate a crime whereby guns are stuck in people's faces but a jury cannot conclude that the person facilitating such a crime could have anticipated that someone would have been killed as a result of this scheme. In a sane world, an argument like this wouldn't pass the giggle test. And it certainly wouldn't fly on a successive federal habeas petition.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 30, 2007 11:10:34 AM

Seeing that “innocence” is a political or legal term of art (probably more political than legal), what is pathetic is that you don’t understand this.

There are people in jail that, at some philosophical level, are “innocent” of crimes. But, we tolerate putting a few “innocent” people in jail because it serves the greater good of society. Instead, we concentrate more on the “process” of putting a member of the masses in jail. We ask: Was the trial fair? Was the presented evidence adequate? Were the people that take part in the pageant of justice doing their jobs? We don’t really care to look too deeply into the question of moral or ethical guilt, because it doesn’t matter.

It is sort of like Sen. Craig. If I was judging him as an overlord, I would say that he is “innocent.” But because he had the opportunity for a fair trial and admitted some heinous sex crime that disturbed the orderly working of transportation in the USA, he is a guilty sex pervert, and the people of Idaho are responsible for electing him.

What I find sort of amusing is that even though there are people that have been convicted of crimes based on prosecutorial misconduct or the lies of witnesses, the doors of the jails have hardly been flung open by any habeas petitions of any kind. If this were true, we could deal with prison overcrowding overnight. Instead, some people all we get is just rants by about how the courts are “clogged” (generally not true), and how “liberals” are succeeding in making the country lawless.

Posted by: S.cotus | Aug 30, 2007 11:49:13 AM

A wall between Texas and Oklahoma would be a good idea for both sides as Texans couldn't cross and (more importantly) Texans would be spared some of the vile smell of Oklahoma that wafts across the Red River. A "win-win."

Federalist: how many giggles do you get when you read about Ruben Cantu? Or is he just an unlucky egg that got cracked whilst making the Texas Execution Omelette?

Posted by: Dweedle | Aug 30, 2007 12:13:38 PM

Not many, dweedle. Executions aren't anything to giggle over. . . .

Posted by: federalist | Aug 30, 2007 12:23:34 PM

"Executions aren't anything to giggle over. . . ."

No. You cheer.

Posted by: S.cotus | Aug 30, 2007 1:09:01 PM

Cheer is not the correct word. I think that executions ought to be carried out, but I wish we didn't need them. There is some satisfaction knowing that we as a society have the moral courage to exact the highest punishment from someone who has egregiously broken our laws. Kenneth Foster deserves to die, and I hope, notwithstanding what I consider the cowardice of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Governor Perry will see fit to allow this execution to go forward.

Foster is every bit as responsible as the piece of human waste who pulled the trigger. And some of the efforts on his behalf to minimize his participation in this unnecessary and beastly crime are disgusting. And Foster is a liar. How dare he insult our intelligence with his garbage story about leaving Patrick and LaHood alone were it not for Patrick "flagging him down". (And the news stories and defense stories about Patrick flirting with these animals are beneath contempt.)

Posted by: federalist | Aug 30, 2007 1:19:15 PM

And S.cotus, you just make smarmy jokes about all this. I'd rather be part of the "Burn Bundy Burn" crowd than make the snide twit-like remarks that you make.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 30, 2007 1:22:57 PM

>>>I'd rather be part of the "Burn Bundy Burn" crowd than make the snide twit-like remarks that you make.

We all have our preferences in life. You choose to cheer for executions and see killing as some sort of vindication of your value system. I choose to make snide comments about how ironic it is that your value system (or lack thereof) is even taken seriously in this day in age.

Posted by: S.cotus | Aug 30, 2007 2:20:09 PM

Well, Our grade state of Texas continues to lead the nation.

Posted by: EJ | Aug 30, 2007 5:39:59 PM

September's pretty hot in Texas too, Doc. We've got five more scheduled next month.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Aug 30, 2007 6:55:54 PM

It must also be noted that half of the death sentences handed down in Texas come from Harris County (Houston area). Texas has 254 counties, and one of them is responsible for about 50% of all the executions/death sentences in the entire state. Harris County is the death penalty capital of the world.

Posted by: bruce | Aug 31, 2007 10:25:20 PM

Yea for Harris County! It is also of note that Harris County is the largest county in the nation that does not have a public defender service. Even pitiful New Orleans has a local PD.

Posted by: dweedle | Sep 4, 2007 1:03:57 PM

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