Skip to comments.Perry Delivers on Texas Death Penalty
Posted on 08/28/2011 5:09:36 AM PDT by Kaslin
As Texas governor, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry has presided over 234 executions. It's a record number, which, The Washington Post reported last week, bestows on Perry "a law-and-order credential that none of his competitors can match -- even if they wanted to."
Watch how pundits will try to turn that statistic into a political negative -- and paint Perry as the governor with blood on his spurs -- even though American voters overwhelmingly support the death penalty.
The temptation to tout Texas' status as the state with the most executions will prove too seductive. It won't matter that, as the Post story points out, Perry has overseen more executions than any other governor in modern history because his state is the second-largest in the country and he has served as governor of that state for nearly 11 years or that the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards oversaw 50 executions during her one term -- and unlike Perry, she never commuted a death sentence.
The irony here, points out Kent Scheidegger of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, Calif., is that Texas does not deserve its reputation as the most execution-prone state. Scheidegger crunched federal data from 1977 to 2009 and found that among the nation's 34 states with capital punishment, Texas falls below the mean of 16.5 death penalty sentences per 1,000 murders. Delaware and Oklahoma have higher rates when it comes to executions.
Of course, the other big factor is that Texas is not California. Hence, its sentences are not crushed under the heel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There is no federal judge in the Lone Star State who -- fearful, lest a convicted murderer be put at risk of feeling any pain during lethal injection -- issued an order that effectively stayed all state executions since February 2006, as happened in California.
In Texas, a governor actually can carry out the law.
So, how do pundits turn that into a negative? Death penalty opponents suggest that Perry presided over the execution of an innocent man, Cameron Todd Willingham, in 2004, after Willingham was wrongfully convicted for the 1991 deaths of his three daughters, 2-year-old Amber and 1-year-old twins Karmon and Kameron.
Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project in New York, has argued that an innocent man was executed. Investigators' finding of arson was seriously flawed. A number of journalists agree.
(Over time, I'll be examining the case -- as this controversy will not go away. On the one hand, I've seen journalists who so want to believe that mean-spirited law enforcement officials prosecuted an innocent man that they've willfully ignored overwhelming evidence of guilt. As Scheidegger noted, the Willingham case "has been the subject of a lot of selective reporting." On the other hand, though Perry is right to point out that a jury convicted Willingham and appellate courts upheld the verdict, his 2009 decision to dismiss the chairman of a state forensic panel that was supposed to review the Willingham case works against him. The San Antonio Express-News editorialized that Perry's political maneuvers to thwart a review were "unconscionable.")
On the compassionate conservative side, Perry has commuted three death sentences to life in prison. In 2007, on the advice of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Perry granted a reprieve to stop the lethal injection of Kenneth Foster because Foster drove the getaway car but was not the shooter in a 1996 robbery/homicide. Perry also signed the bill that created life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty.
I think the death penalty could be a much bigger problem for President Barack Obama as he seeks re-election. Obama says that he supports the death penalty, but his administration opposed Texas' scheduled execution of Humberto Leal -- who was convicted in the 1994 murder/rape of a 16-year-old -- because Leal, a Mexican national raised in San Antonio, had not been advised that he was entitled to consult with the Mexican Consulate. Perry would not oblige, and Leal was executed.
Also, under the Obama administration this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental from Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee on the grounds that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved drugs intended to execute convicted killers.
Yes, folks, those are your tax dollars at work in the Obama administration -- funding federal law enforcement raids designed to undermine state laws.
It doesn't matter that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lethal injection by a 7-2 margin in a 2008 ruling. If there is one way Democrats know how to use the federal government successfully, it is to sabotage state laws they don't like.
Oh, please, not that XXXXXXX again. If you have to put an adjective in front of it in order to be one, you ain't.
Of course the article fails to mention that Perry has been the governor of Texas since God was just a baby...............
It does say he’s been governor for 11 years.
Like Florida and California, Texas attracts loads of transients as well as illegals. Add to this the usual amish suspects and you have a combination that can cause problems.
Difference is Texas is a no B.S. state as opposed to Calif. which everyone knows is a B.S.state.
Florida is sort of in between.
If Calif. can’t do in a guy like Charlet Manson???
The governor can issue a one-time, 30-day stay of execution. That is it, period, unless the governor receives a written request from a majority of the members of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles requesting something else.
It doesn't much matter if the governor is Democrat or Republican, pro- or anti-death penalty.
Folks who write about the death penalty and executions in Texas need to do just a little bit of research. The pertinent information is readily available on the internet.
In Leal's case, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, which currently has I believe three Hispanic members, had already declined to make such a request of the governor. Several judges and courts had also declined to stop his execution. Issuing a 30-day stay would have accomplished nothing except to make Governor Perry look weak and foolish. I doubt he seriously considered it.
I agree with the author that the Obama administration's attempted intervention in this case probably did them no good at all. (Leal had been in the US since he was 2 years old and doubtless "forgot" his citizenship status until there was the possibility that it might help him in his legal case).
LOL! I wondered who would catch that first-—As a Texan, it seems like he’s been in office forever—and on the whole, I think he’s been okay—don’t agree with everything he said or did, but then, there was only ever one perfect Man, and we crucified Him.
What troubles me about Perry is that he won’t or hasn’t submitted his Gun Rights survey to the Nat’l Gun Rights group.
While I don't see this as much of a problem in the primaries, this will be a problem for him in the general if he gets the nomination.
Regardless of the facts, the left will use this case to claim Perry executed an innocent man. I've read up on this, and it is ripe for anti-death penalty demagoguing. Just as the truth about Valerie Plame didn't matter to the left, it won't matter here either. They'll fabricate a narrative and run with it.
He submitted his gun control right to that coyote on his morning jog.
At one per month we'd need over 59 years to carry out the sentences if we didn't add a single new condemned prisoner.
More death row inmates have died by suicide or national causes than have been executed in CA since 1977.
We still have condemned prisoners awaiting execution since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
What really concerns me is how many folks get concerned about what he hasn't done, despite the fact that the issue hasn't been seriously raised. "He hasn't stated his philosophy on this or that..." despite not being asked to provide an input. CCW/Hunter, etc., ought to give you a wee bit of an idea of where he stands on guns...
Texas is also ranked low in high school graduation rate.
Texas is 49th in verbal SAT scores in the nation and 46th in average math SAT scores. Can we trust him to reform Washington?
This case makes me very uncomfortable. It isn’t the execution - it is the cover-up. Texas law more than sufficiently shielded Perry from responsibility, but by shitheeling the investigation he took full ownership.
If a governor had full control over the education system for the State, your argument might be viable. Under the current Federal thumb, no Governor has that kind of control.
If that's the biggest negative you have, and are willing to make your decision from it, we better hope there are those with higher priorities come election time...
That's a good argument that I haven't seen made often enough: That people who think "conservative" has to be cathodically protected with a claim of "compassion" don't really believe in conservatism at all, or rather believe instead that conservatism is what its enemies say it is.
That's probably because Texas ranks so high in percentage of students who don't even speak English. A fact for which Perry deserves to exercise some ownership, federal interference or no. He's done plenty to resist enforcement of immigration laws himself, like not getting after those "sanctuary city" mayors and their non-enforcement policies that have killed some of their own policemen.