Thursday, September 08, 2011

Crowd cheers Gov. Perry’s record-breaking execution tally

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Hanging noose

The state of Texas has had a long and troubled history when it comes to the death penalty, and especially so under current presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) watch. Since his election in 2000, a staggering 235 people have been executed – that’s half of inmates put down since the capital punishment’s (re)implementation in 1976 (and 20% of all inmates executed in the state’s history), more than under any governor of any other state in recent history. There’s a number of reasons for this, including the state’s knack for illegally executing mentally handicapped individuals and foreign nationals, along with growing controversy over increasing suspicions that the state has most likely executed a number of innocent people (notably Cameron Todd Willingham), even after new evidence emerged casting serious doubts on the evidence against them.

This was brought up last night during the Republican debate, when Perry was asked whether he had any qualms at all regarding the mere possibility (much less the near-certainty) that his state might have put at least one wrongly convicted person to death.

And the “small government”, “pro-life” crowd rejoiceth:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. [audience applauds loudly] Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might innocent?

PERRY: No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which – when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing; they go through an appellate process; they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s required. But in the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved in another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed.

[crowd applauds and cheers]

S’cuse me while this bleeding-heart liberal steps out for a moment to weep for humanity. Or vomit. Either way.

Tellingly enough, one such supporter of state-sanctioned murder said that “It takes balls to execute an innocent man”. I don’t know about that – there’s certainly nothing remotely courageous about killing off helpless inmates in restraints at the behest of the courts – but it definitely takes something. And I suspect it’s the same thing that would make an audience react with jubilation at the thought of hundreds being slaughtered by the very government they claim to want to restrain.

(via @ggreenwald)

Edit: (09/08/11 6:25 PM) – Added extra execution statistics; via ThinkProgress.