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Texas Matters: Can Elsa Alcala Reform Death Row?


Up until January, Elsa Alcala had one of nine seats on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She was a judge on the state’s highest court that handles criminal cases. That includes ruling on all death penalty cases.

But while on the bench, Judge Alcala saw problems with the legal process with capital punishment and she began to lose faith in how some people were being sent to the Texas death chamber.

Alcala became a loudest voice on the state’s most prominent criminal court pointing out the unreliability of the death penalty.

She declined to seek re-election and retired from the bench.  Alcala is now working with the Texas Defenders Service to work with state lawmakers to reform the death penalty.

Alcala said she wants  to make the death penalty reliable and in line with the U.S. Constitution.

On this edition of "Texas Matters," we ask Alcala about her background and how her views on the death penalty evolved.  

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