[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Sep 16 00:31:04 CDT 2005
THE 349TH ABOMINATION
(In memory of Frances Newton, executed by Texas 9/14/05)
There is not one among us who is not saddened and outraged by horrible
crimes and the pain suffered by the victims of crime and their families.
However, we should be equally saddened and outraged by the imperfect
criminal justice system in Texas and the horrific record of executions
carried out in this state since the death penalty was resumed in 1982.
Texas has over 1/3 of all the executions in the United States. Harris
County has more executions than any county in the nation.
The execution of Frances Newton on September 14, 2005, was an
abomination. It was an abomination because there were numerous problems
with her case that should have taken the death penalty off the books - an
extremely poor legal defense, destruction of evidence and the probable
existence of a second gun that was never investigated by the courts.
However, beyond the obvious discrepancies in her case, her execution was
an abomination because it was the taking of human life. Frances had been
incarcerated for about 17 years and had been a model prisoner. If
society considered her to be a "threat", she could have been kept in
prison. Her execution was totally unnecessary.
Frances' execution was the 349th abomination since capital punishment was
resumed in Texas in 1982. Most everyone who has been executed, and those
that remain on death row today, were poor and could not afford the
"dream" defense team that people like O.J. Simpson and Robert Durst could
afford. The reality of our criminal justice system today is that
innocent people can be sentenced to death and guilty people can be set
free. The motto over the U.S. Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under the
Law", is untrue.
Frances did not have a chance on September 14 despite the hard work of
her attorneys and supporters. Her death had been pre-ordained by a
system that does not value life and justice. It is clear that the Texas
Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Governor do not value life and
justice. It is equally clear that the Harris County District Attorney,
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and
even the U.S. Supreme Court do not value life and justice. If they did ,
Frances and hundreds like her would never have been put to death.
It is also clear that many citizens of Texas do not value life and
justice. If they did, they would not allow a corrupt criminal justice
sytem to exist. They would not elect politicians to office who do not
value life and justice. In fact, if the citizens of Texas truly valued
life and justice, they would abolish the death penalty altogether.
The mainstream media does not value life and justice. I say this despite
the honest efforts of many reporters and journalists. If the mainstream
media really valued life and justice, it would dissect the criminal
justice system in a way that would make it clear to the general public
that the system is riddled with biases and flaws so egregious that the
death penalty should not even be on the books.
It is with particular sadness that I must also say that even many
spiritual and minority leaders do not strongly value life and justice.
If they did, they would have spoken out for Frances. They would have
strongly protested the execution of 348 people who were executed in Texas
before Frances. I emphasize the word "strongly" because a weak protest
is no protest at all.
Texas still plans to execute many more people before the year is ended.
These abominations will continue to occur until the people of Texas stand
up for life and justice.
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
September 15, 2005
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