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Rick Perry in the Spotlight as Texas Sets to Work on Controversial Executions

Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate faces appeals for clemency in two highly-charged death row cases

by Ed Pilkington in New York

Rick Perry, the frontrunner to become the Republican candidate in next year's presidential election, has just hours left to prevent a man being put to death in Texas in a case in which the jury was told the prisoner was a danger to the public – and should therefore be executed – because he was black.

Texas death row unit in Huntsville. The state has carried out 234 executions since Rick Perry became governor in 2000. (Photograp

Duane Buck is one of four men scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas, where Perry is governor, over the next eight days – an exceptional rate even in this execution-happy state. At Buck's sentencing hearing, the jury that set his punishment was informed by a psychologist that black people had a higher rate of violent behavior, a statement used by the prosecution as its key argument against giving him an alternative penalty of life imprisonment.

On Tuesday night, another hotly contested case is scheduled to reach its climax with the execution of Steven Woods, who was sentenced to death for a double murder, even though an alleged accomplice later confessed to having pulled the trigger.

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