Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Texas Accounts for Half of Executions in US but Now Has Doubts Over Death Row

Overturned convictions and growth of DNA forensic evidence shake state's rock-solid faith in capital punishment

by Chris McGreal in Livingston

["Old Sparky", the decommissioned electric chair in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964, at the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas. (AFP/File/Fanny Carrier)]"Old Sparky", the decommissioned electric chair in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964, at the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas. (AFP/File/Fanny Carrier)

Even in Texas they are having their doubts. The state that executes more people than any other by far – it will account for half the prisoners sent to the death chamber in the US this year – is seeing its once rock-solid faith in capital punishment shaken by overturned convictions, judicial scandals and growing evidence that at least one innocent man has been executed.

The growth of DNA forensic evidence has seen nearly 140 death row convictions overturned across the US, prompting abolition and moratoriums in other states that Texas has so far resisted.

Read on...

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