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.