A Troubling Week in Texas

The death penalty is always inhumane, and the past few days in Texas have brought to light some of its most worrisome aspects.

On Wednesday, The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Robert Thompson’s death sentence for his role in a 1996 robbery and shooting be commuted to life imprisonment. The shooter, Sammy Butler, was convicted and received life in prison, which raises serious questions about the arbitrary nature of how the death penalty works in real life. Why wait until the last minute to discuss the disproportionality of sentencing the accomplice to death while the man who pulled the trigger is sentenced to life in prison?

Earlier this week a federal judge in Houston granted a last-minute stay to Gerald Eldridge, allowing 90 days for a review of his mental state and capacity. Executing the mentally ill is extremely problematic, and the time to deal with such a serious issue is not during a prisoner’s last meal. Such jarring, nerve-wracking changes at the last second are traumatic for everyone involved, including the victims’ families.

Also this week, Danielle Simpson requested that his sentence be commuted to life in prison or that he be given a  180-day reprieve to appeal his case. Frustrated with life behind bars, Simpson had previously stated that he did not want to wait around to be executed, and so was considered a “volunteer.” Despite the alarming injustice of denying someone who has given up on appealing a death sentence a chance to reconsider, and despite claims that he suffered from “debilitating mental illness,” his requests were denied and Simpson was executed Wednesday evening. He thus became the 29th “volunteer” Texas has executed (around 6 and a half percent of all Texas executions), and the 134th “volunteer” executed in the US since the resumption of executions in 1977 (representing over 11 % of all executions).

As the week draws to a close, all eyes will be on Texas Governor Rick Perry as he decides the fate of Robert Thompson. Please contact Governor Perry and urge him to follow the advice of Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by commuting Thompson’s sentence to life in prison.

UPDATE:  Governor Perry rejected the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the execution of Robert Thompson was carried out as scheduled.

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32 thoughts on “A Troubling Week in Texas

  1. I feel that Gov. Rick Perry acts more like a cruel dictator than a governor. Since he and Texas defy the U.S. Constitution by executing the mentally ill in spite of the Eighth Amendment, and since he denied Danielle Simpson clemency, I'm afraid he will deny Robert Thompson clemency too. I feel so hurt that he, Texas, and Virginia all live in an age of paranoia, like everyone's living in a subliminal mind-warp America! All I can do is pray for Thompson's soul and for the souls of his murder victims. :cry:

  2. I feel that Gov. Rick Perry acts more like a cruel dictator than a governor. Since he and Texas defy the U.S. Constitution by executing the mentally ill in spite of the Eighth Amendment, and since he denied Danielle Simpson clemency, I’m afraid he will deny Robert Thompson clemency too. I feel so hurt that he, Texas, and Virginia all live in an age of paranoia, like everyone’s living in a subliminal mind-warp America! All I can do is pray for Thompson’s soul and for the souls of his murder victims. :cry:

  3. Why ….Are You so worried about these Murderers Who kill innocent law abiding citizens. As…. "Genuine Cruel dictators" ….They don"t give there Victims (the girl that had two jobs at the convenience store just to make ends meet, Grandma who was just coming home to her own house, Etc. Etc. Etc.) Any kind of a Last Minute reprieve, a Final meal or even a last statement to their family. They don't give any REPRIEVE AT ALL !!!!! Maybe you Guys should “volunteer” and contact the Governor Rick Perry and see if he'll let these Murderers who you seem to think so much of stay in Your House Instead of Death Row. Once there you could give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. Then who would be living in an age of paranoia??? This country needs to go back to eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth Keep up the good work Governor Rick Perry!!!!! Or we could Let the Boy Scouts move in with you Guys!!!!!

  4. An unrepentant, confessed murderer is one thing, someone who is mentally ill or retarded is quite another. The US is the only industrialized country in the world that still executes people. Putting someone to death often costs more than keeping that person in prison for life, and the death penalty is disproportionately applied to minorities and the poor. No one is saying they shouldn't pay for their crimes or that they should be coddled. Personally, I think being locked up for the rest of their lives is a better punishment. If they die, then they are relieved of the guilt and regret (assuming they have any)

  5. Why do Christians always quoted the old testament "an eye for an eye" and not the new "let he who is without sin …"? There is always the wrath of god not the forgiveness of Jesus (isn't that where the Christ in Christian comes from?). How do you ask someone what they want to eat then walk them to their death? What makes that less barbaric then the crime that was committed?

  6. Why ….Are You so worried about these Murderers Who kill innocent law abiding citizens. As…. “Genuine Cruel dictators” ….They don”t give there Victims (the girl that had two jobs at the convenience store just to make ends meet, Grandma who was just coming home to her own house, Etc. Etc. Etc.) Any kind of a Last Minute reprieve, a Final meal or even a last statement to their family. They don’t give any REPRIEVE AT ALL !!!!! Maybe you Guys should “volunteer” and contact the Governor Rick Perry and see if he’ll let these Murderers who you seem to think so much of stay in Your House Instead of Death Row. Once there you could give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. Then who would be living in an age of paranoia??? This country needs to go back to eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth Keep up the good work Governor Rick Perry!!!!! Or we could Let the Boy Scouts move in with you Guys!!!!!

  7. It is time the United States follow the steps of their western counterparts and completely end this barbaric kind of punishment. I thought the united States is supposedly the most "civilized" country in the world. Hmm, what an irony.

  8. And yet here's more proof that everyone, including Gov. Perry, is living in an age of paranoia in a subliminal mind-warp Texas because of executing people who never fired a shot like Thompson in spite of pleas for clemency!
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6729762

    I swear, everyone is saluting Perry for a "job well done" and "keep up the good work", because of his denying mentally ill "volunteers" like Danielle Simpson and Thompson clemency, but I will never forgive Texas or Virginia for defying the U.S. Constitution, ignoring the flaws of the death penalty, raping the justice system and saying "screw you!" to human rights supporters and death penalty abolitionists! :cry:

  9. Johnny, are you a death penalty-and-Rick-Perry supporter too? Because the way you salute Perry for executing mentally ill "S.O.B.s" like Robert Thompson and Danielle Simpson is kind of disgusting, and you never care about AIUSA OR human rights, while you only support murder victims' families, punish sinners and criminals with "a death for a death" and send them to hell by executing them! You never care about us at all! :evil: Scott, Robin, and Ophelia, I fully respect your comments about the death penalty being an inhumane punishment. Well done. :)

  10. An unrepentant, confessed murderer is one thing, someone who is mentally ill or retarded is quite another. The US is the only industrialized country in the world that still executes people. Putting someone to death often costs more than keeping that person in prison for life, and the death penalty is disproportionately applied to minorities and the poor. No one is saying they shouldn’t pay for their crimes or that they should be coddled. Personally, I think being locked up for the rest of their lives is a better punishment. If they die, then they are relieved of the guilt and regret (assuming they have any)

  11. And yet here's more proof that everyone, including Gov. Perry, is living in an age of paranoia in a subliminal mind-warp Texas because of executing people who never fired a shot like Thompson in spite of pleas for clemency!
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6729762

    I swear, everyone is saluting Perry for a "job well done" and "keep up the good work", because of his denying mentally ill "volunteers" like Danielle Simpson and Thompson clemency, but I will never forgive Texas or Virginia for defying the U.S. Constitution, ignoring the flaws of the death penalty, raping the justice system and saying "screw you!" to human rights supporters and death penalty abolitionists! :cry:

  12. And yet here's more proof that everyone, including Gov. Perry, is living in an age of paranoia in a subliminal mind-warp Texas because of executing people who never fired a shot like Thompson in spite of pleas for clemency!
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6729762

    I swear, everyone is saluting Perry for a "job well done" and "keep up the good work", because of his denying mentally ill "volunteers" like Danielle Simpson and Thompson clemency, but I will never forgive Texas or Virginia for defying the U.S. Constitution, ignoring the flaws of the death penalty, raping the justice system and saying "screw you!" to human rights supporters and death penalty abolitionists! :cry:

  13. Why do Christians always quoted the old testament “an eye for an eye” and not the new “let he who is without sin …”? There is always the wrath of god not the forgiveness of Jesus (isn’t that where the Christ in Christian comes from?). How do you ask someone what they want to eat then walk them to their death? What makes that less barbaric then the crime that was committed?

  14. It is time the United States follow the steps of their western counterparts and completely end this barbaric kind of punishment. I thought the united States is supposedly the most “civilized” country in the world. Hmm, what an irony.

  15. Johnny, are you a death penalty-and-Rick-Perry supporter too? Because the way you salute Perry for executing mentally ill “S.O.B.s” like Robert Thompson and Danielle Simpson is kind of disgusting, and you never care about AIUSA OR human rights, while you only support murder victims’ families, punish sinners and criminals with “a death for a death” and send them to hell by executing them! You never care about us at all! :evil: Scott, Robin, and Ophelia, I fully respect your comments about the death penalty being an inhumane punishment. Well done. :)

  16. And yet here’s more proof that everyone, including Gov. Perry, is living in an age of paranoia in a subliminal mind-warp Texas because of executing people who never fired a shot like Thompson in spite of pleas for clemency!

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6729762.html

    I swear, everyone is saluting Perry for a “job well done” and “keep up the good work”, because of his denying mentally ill “volunteers” like Danielle Simpson and Thompson clemency, but I will never forgive Texas or Virginia for defying the U.S. Constitution, ignoring the flaws of the death penalty, raping the justice system and saying “screw you!” to human rights supporters and death penalty abolitionists! :cry:

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  18. Texas and Virginia are not asking for your forgiveness…. Nor are they defying the U.S. Constitution…. So says the Supreme Court, Congress, the President and anyone with a reasonable understanding of the Constitution.

  19. Texas and Virginia are not asking for your forgiveness…. Nor are they defying the U.S. Constitution…. So says the Supreme Court, Congress, the President and anyone with a reasonable understanding of the Constitution.

  20. To Debbie Kearns: Dear Debbie, in your fight for abolishing the death penalty (that I definitely agree with) you seem to forget that there are MANY people who live in Texas and DON'T approve of death penalty at all. It's not THEIR fault their state or state representatives don't listen to them or think otherwise. Your repeated expression "subliminal mind-warp Texas" is very disrespectful to all Texans who see the death penalty as something that should definitely be abolished. Your attacks against all Texans could be even considered "racist" because you attack all representatives of one group only because of a few individuals. I don't think a person who fights for human rights should act like this. Fight for the right cause but with respect, grace and without attacking all for bad deeds of a few. With all respect, Nikki.

  21. To Debbie Kearns: Dear Debbie, in your fight for abolishing the death penalty (that I definitely agree with) you seem to forget that there are MANY people who live in Texas and DON’T approve of death penalty at all. It’s not THEIR fault their state or state representatives don’t listen to them or think otherwise. Your repeated expression “subliminal mind-warp Texas” is very disrespectful to all Texans who see the death penalty as something that should definitely be abolished. Your attacks against all Texans could be even considered “racist” because you attack all representatives of one group only because of a few individuals. I don’t think a person who fights for human rights should act like this. Fight for the right cause but with respect, grace and without attacking all for bad deeds of a few. With all respect, Nikki.

  22. I understand fully the complaints which are antithetical to executing those mental retardation. I won't dare to dive in the deep end of the ethical premise of such a decision. But one particular that frustrates me the most is this constant misuse of the word "civilized". I think far too many people, especially americans, illegitimately apply that word in demeaning what they view as "alien" and do so ignorantly without really understanding what civilized actually means. So what does it mean? Is the term relative? By what standards are we judging civilized vs. uncivilized? How often that term has been abused to give back support to pathetic arguments with very weak foundations, choked of any substantial content. It's almost become the "parthian shot", the cheap shot for dry and witless assertions. To quote, Felipe Armesto, world reknown historian, in his book entitled, "The world: A History" makes this following point, " civilization is now a discredited word. People have abused it as a name for societies they approve of, which usually means societies that resemble their own. They have also denied the term to cultures they deem alien or lacking in material culture or institutions similar to their own. Or they have misapplied it as the name of a supposedly universal stage of social development, even though we have no evidence that societies follow any universal course of development." I fully support the death penalty. Is it cost effective for you frugal tightwads? of course! Jails don't have unlimited space. They fill, especially quickly in certian areas. So what is done? We build more. With whose money? Our money of course. Who shelters the inmates? mostly the money of tax payers, who are… us! yay. wait. another jail is full… well let us build another one shall we. With whose money? our money of course. yay. I think you get the point. Not only do tax dollars receive the crucial blow, to fund species who are tearing down our society anyway, but prisons themselves take up space. Thankfully I don;t have one in my backyard. That would sure hurt the real estate… It's rather interesting that few arguments have posed 'defenses' based on assertions of barbarism. what seems barbaric is lawlessness. what seems primordial is walking down the street with senses needfully alert and attentive, fearful of attack. I believe a "civilized" society should be able to protect the lives of it's people, while still perpetuating their freedom of choice and agency. I think it's a rather scary thought on the way we value a human life. Society, sadly, usually values individuals based on monetary gain. If waste management workers were considers such a great asset, why do they make dirt compared to other vocations? schooling perhaps? even in that ballpark conflicts run rampant? Why don't women get paid for raising children?? isn't population growth and sustainment essential for a strong and robust country? And here, on measuring the value of a human life, what sort of worth has been given? Is 9 year old lucy really not worth the highest rung of punishment? Why give sugar cookies to individuals who are seeking to untie everything we have tried so hard to bind together? You think the united states is harsh, look at videos of how inmates are treated in places like russia. china. such an argument is parochial at best.

    just my two cents

  23. I do however see the formalities needful to justly carry out such punishments. I'm making this addendum because sadly, people will abuse me for not placing it within my novel. In such a distraught case, such as this, we should receive a nudging reminder of health impairments, and substantial, justifiable evidence to carry out a punishment such as this. I will stop there. I know I'm writing too much :) to finalize this discourse, and I don't mean to be the cynic, but another 'pet peeve' is a misunderstanding of the law of moses, especially the phrase "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth". It is misused time and time again by asinine christians who don;t even read their own bible.. If they did, they would be able to first distinguish the social law from the criminal law, and comprehend what such a pair emphasized: love and concern for one's neighbor amd absolute justice ( not in a private setting mind you ). So to close this rather long and tiring chirade, I'll seek to clear up what appears to be a conundrum.

    A misunderstanding of the law makes it appear cold, unbending, and revengeful. three things must be noted for this eye to eye application: first, it was intended to be a law of justice, not of revenge. secondly, it was NOT a private vengeance, but public justice. Thirdly, by excluding murder from the crimes for which RANSOM IS POSSIBLE(numbers 35:31) it was possible for men to merely pay fines, whether they be monetary or other acceptable forms, for injuries, whether consciously or inadvertently. compensation for injuries was often or usually allowed to take the form of a fine, of course again excluding specific crimes, murder to be one of them.
    The same law that required just retribution and payment also required a farmer to leave portions of his field unharvested so the poor could glean therein(Leviticus 19:9-10;23:22), demanded that the employer pay his hired labor at nightfall rather than wait even until the next day( leviticus 19:13 ), commanded men "thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart"(leviticus 19:17), and summarized the ideal by saying, "be ye holy" ( leviticus 20:7 ). If christians believe that such a God divinely mandated such a law to be followed, how could we even conceive what many believe as a "perfect" God to allow 'barbarism' to taint those whom he considered his "peculiar people" ( exodus 19:5-6).

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  25. I understand fully the complaints which are antithetical to executing those mental retardation. I won’t dare to dive in the deep end of the ethical premise of such a decision. But one particular that frustrates me the most is this constant misuse of the word “civilized”. I think far too many people, especially americans, illegitimately apply that word in demeaning what they view as “alien” and do so ignorantly without really understanding what civilized actually means. So what does it mean? Is the term relative? By what standards are we judging civilized vs. uncivilized? How often that term has been abused to give back support to pathetic arguments with very weak foundations, choked of any substantial content. It’s almost become the “parthian shot”, the cheap shot for dry and witless assertions. To quote, Felipe Armesto, world reknown historian, in his book entitled, “The world: A History” makes this following point, ” civilization is now a discredited word. People have abused it as a name for societies they approve of, which usually means societies that resemble their own. They have also denied the term to cultures they deem alien or lacking in material culture or institutions similar to their own. Or they have misapplied it as the name of a supposedly universal stage of social development, even though we have no evidence that societies follow any universal course of development.” I fully support the death penalty. Is it cost effective for you frugal tightwads? of course! Jails don’t have unlimited space. They fill, especially quickly in certian areas. So what is done? We build more. With whose money? Our money of course. Who shelters the inmates? mostly the money of tax payers, who are… us! yay. wait. another jail is full… well let us build another one shall we. With whose money? our money of course. yay. I think you get the point. Not only do tax dollars receive the crucial blow, to fund species who are tearing down our society anyway, but prisons themselves take up space. Thankfully I don;t have one in my backyard. That would sure hurt the real estate… It’s rather interesting that few arguments have posed ‘defenses’ based on assertions of barbarism. what seems barbaric is lawlessness. what seems primordial is walking down the street with senses needfully alert and attentive, fearful of attack. I believe a “civilized” society should be able to protect the lives of it’s people, while still perpetuating their freedom of choice and agency. I think it’s a rather scary thought on the way we value a human life. Society, sadly, usually values individuals based on monetary gain. If waste management workers were considers such a great asset, why do they make dirt compared to other vocations? schooling perhaps? even in that ballpark conflicts run rampant? Why don’t women get paid for raising children?? isn’t population growth and sustainment essential for a strong and robust country? And here, on measuring the value of a human life, what sort of worth has been given? Is 9 year old lucy really not worth the highest rung of punishment? Why give sugar cookies to individuals who are seeking to untie everything we have tried so hard to bind together? You think the united states is harsh, look at videos of how inmates are treated in places like russia. china. such an argument is parochial at best.

    just my two cents

  26. I do however see the formalities needful to justly carry out such punishments. I’m making this addendum because sadly, people will abuse me for not placing it within my novel. In such a distraught case, such as this, we should receive a nudging reminder of health impairments, and substantial, justifiable evidence to carry out a punishment such as this. I will stop there. I know I’m writing too much :) to finalize this discourse, and I don’t mean to be the cynic, but another ‘pet peeve’ is a misunderstanding of the law of moses, especially the phrase “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”. It is misused time and time again by asinine christians who don;t even read their own bible.. If they did, they would be able to first distinguish the social law from the criminal law, and comprehend what such a pair emphasized: love and concern for one’s neighbor amd absolute justice ( not in a private setting mind you ). So to close this rather long and tiring chirade, I’ll seek to clear up what appears to be a conundrum.

    A misunderstanding of the law makes it appear cold, unbending, and revengeful. three things must be noted for this eye to eye application: first, it was intended to be a law of justice, not of revenge. secondly, it was NOT a private vengeance, but public justice. Thirdly, by excluding murder from the crimes for which RANSOM IS POSSIBLE(numbers 35:31) it was possible for men to merely pay fines, whether they be monetary or other acceptable forms, for injuries, whether consciously or inadvertently. compensation for injuries was often or usually allowed to take the form of a fine, of course again excluding specific crimes, murder to be one of them.
    The same law that required just retribution and payment also required a farmer to leave portions of his field unharvested so the poor could glean therein(Leviticus 19:9-10;23:22), demanded that the employer pay his hired labor at nightfall rather than wait even until the next day( leviticus 19:13 ), commanded men “thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart”(leviticus 19:17), and summarized the ideal by saying, “be ye holy” ( leviticus 20:7 ). If christians believe that such a God divinely mandated such a law to be followed, how could we even conceive what many believe as a “perfect” God to allow ‘barbarism’ to taint those whom he considered his “peculiar people” ( exodus 19:5-6).

  27. Having lived in Texas for many years and having had the unpleasant duty of serving on several juries, I have come to believe that Texas and perhaps many other states as well as entire countries demonstrate the triumph of hypocrisy and denial over the human potential for progress.

    I am sickened, not so much by the ignorance of the people of Texas, but by the callous use by the churches and government of their fears and prejudices to inflict more harm and misery upon them.

    Texas 'crude' is not just about oil. It IS the condition of too many of the citizens of this state and, indeed throughout the US and the world. Why stay here, why not move? Simply because the world is a pretty uniformly disgusting place and living in Texas is cheap.

    End reliegion and you end most problems.

  28. Having lived in Texas for many years and having had the unpleasant duty of serving on several juries, I have come to believe that Texas and perhaps many other states as well as entire countries demonstrate the triumph of hypocrisy and denial over the human potential for progress.

    I am sickened, not so much by the ignorance of the people of Texas, but by the callous use by the churches and government of their fears and prejudices to inflict more harm and misery upon them.

    Texas ‘crude’ is not just about oil. It IS the condition of too many of the citizens of this state and, indeed throughout the US and the world. Why stay here, why not move? Simply because the world is a pretty uniformly disgusting place and living in Texas is cheap.

    End reliegion and you end most problems.

  29. I like Texas and am proud to live here. Awenshok, you don't have to live here you are free to move anywhere you want in this 'Crude' country. And if you want to move out of it, we don't have any walls to keep you in. Enjoy your day!

  30. I like Texas and am proud to live here. Awenshok, you don’t have to live here you are free to move anywhere you want in this ‘Crude’ country. And if you want to move out of it, we don’t have any walls to keep you in. Enjoy your day!

  31. I’ve been reading a few posts and really and enjoy your writing. I’m just starting up my own blog and only hope that I can write as well and give the reader so much insight.