Death penalty | Texas Public Radio

Death penalty

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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.”


my_southborough via Creative Commons

A San Antonio man scheduled to be executed this month is asking the governor for clemency.


From Texas Standard.

Texas is re-upping a request to “opt in” to a federal law that would speed up the execution appeals process in the state, potentially leading to quicker executions.

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

House lawmakers at the state Capitol are examining what action, if any, the legislature should take during the 2019 legislative session regarding the mental and intellectual standards of individuals facing the death penalty.


From Texas Standard.

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker wasn’t supposed to be alive now. He was scheduled to be the fourth person executed in Texas this year, sentenced to death for coordinating the 2003 Sugar Land murders of his mom and brother and the attempted murder of his dad. He wanted the insurance money.

As public support for the death penalty wanes, the number of executions and projected death sentences in 2017 rose only slightly, remaining at nearly 25-year lows, according to the annual report released Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center.

There were 23 executions this year, the center says. Over the past 25 years, only last year's total, 20, was lower.

From Texas Standard:

In 1985, Pedro Solis Sosa was sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing a sheriff's deputy in Wilson County. Prosecutors alleged that Sosa killed Ollie Childress Jr. with the officer's own pistol after robbing a bank.

Amnesty International says there were fewer executions worldwide last year than the year before — but the number of death sentences handed down is the highest it has ever recorded.

In its annual report, Amnesty estimates that China carried out more executions than all the other countries put together. The human rights group says China put thousands of people to death. The exact figure is classified as a state secret and is not included in Amnesty's worldwide total.

Death penalty laws are on the books in 31 states, but only five carried out executions last year. Now Arkansas is rushing to execute death row inmates at an unprecedented pace this month, before the state's supply of lethal drugs expires.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear the Texas death penalty case of a Honduran national who is arguing that a federal appeals court wrongly denied him resources to investigate and provide evidence of substance abuse and mental illness.

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