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Capital Punishment in Texas

This week's In The News focuses on capital punishment in Texas. The eight resources discussed provide commentary, analysis, news, and statistics. In the last six weeks, the state of Texas has executed four prisoners by lethal injection and postponed three more scheduled executions because of legalities. The postponements include the 36th judicial re-evaluation of a complex murder conviction and the last-minute reprieves granted to two men last month, both of which were later overruled by a US District Judge. Since the death penalty was reinstated by the US Supreme Court in 1976, 504 prisoners have been executed in the 38 states that support capital punishment. Texas leads the nation, by far, having performed nearly one-third (165) of all executions since 1976, with 37 in 1997, 20 in 1998, and 1 already in 1999. Legal experts say that the high rate of execution in Texas is caused by a number of factors including the lack of a statewide public-defender system, the relentless strategies of prosecutors who often seek the death penalty, the conservative nature of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and most importantly, the popular support for capital punishment among Texan voters. Recently, the process of granting clemency to Texas prisoners on death row -- which currently houses over 430 prisoners -- has been challenged again. The constitutionality of the process is in question, and a hearing will be held today by a State District Judge to analyze how the eighteen-member state Board of Pardons and Paroles grants clemency.
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In the News: Capital Punishment in Texas
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