Texas Matters: Transparency & Death Row — What's To Hide? | Texas Public Radio

Texas Matters: Transparency & Death Row — What's To Hide?

Jul 20, 2018

This week on "Texas Matters," we look at the death penalty.

Texas has executed 553 prisoners since capital punishment resumed in 1976, which is more than any other state. Over 11 years, Michelle Lyons watched 278 men and women take their last breath at the hands of the state.

Lyons joins us to discuss her experiences witnessing executions first as a newspaper reporter and then working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in the book, “Death Row: The Final Minutes.”

This past week, the state put Chris Young to death for the 2004 murder of Hasmukh Patel during a robbery of his San Antonio convenience store.

Young's final statement was, "l want to make sure the Patel family knows I love them like they love me. Make sure the kids in the world know I'm being executed and those kids I've been mentoring keep this fight going.”

Young had told children to avoid the path that his life took.

Nationally, public support for the death penalty is at its lowest level in four-and-a-half decades.

According to an October 2017 Gallup poll, 55 percent of adults support capital punishment for convicted murders. And a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released last month shows that Texans still strongly support the death penalty, with 65 percent in support and 25 percent in opposition. This represents a 10 percent decrease in support over the last three years.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi