Texas Ex-Gov Doubts Death Penalty

In a recent interview on NPR, former Texas Governor Mark White discussed his lack of faith in the ability of the legal system to reliably handle death penalty cases, and emphasized the seriousness of handing down an irreversible sentence to a person who may later be proven innocent. While he was Governor, he oversaw a significant number of executions, but White now believes that: ”What I see in retrospect is that our system is not as foolproof as I think it should be in order to carry out a punishment that’s irreversible.”

White also stated that he has never believed in the death penalty as a deterrent, because: “Obviously, with 400 people on death row, there’s at least 400 people up there that didn’t deter.”

As Amnesty International observed, Governor White’s evolution on this question is part of a national trend: “As advances in DNA and forensic science have revealed the extent to which our criminal justice system is prone to error, judges, jurors, the public, and even some politicians, have begun to question the wisdom of resorting to capital punishment.”

White’s statements (he’s a Democrat) also come at a particularly bad time for current Governor Rick Perry, who, in the middle of a re-election campaign, is now being scrutinized for his role in the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who appears to have been innocent and wrongly put to death.

In the past, you would only pay a political price if you didn’t support the death penalty strongly enough.  But in Texas, as everywhere else in the U.S., times have changed, and it would be quite something if the most prolific executing Governor in modern history wound up suffering politically because he supported the death penalty too much.

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7 thoughts on “Texas Ex-Gov Doubts Death Penalty

  1. I agree with you, Brian Evans, 100%! Perry acts more like a cruel dictator than a governor and spews baseless insults against those on death row whether innocent or not, especially executed innocent people like Cameron Willingham. In fact, Perry seems to be one of the Pharisees’ supporters and Pilates who have no mercy or concern for those on death row and their families while only supporting concern for murder victims’ families. And I also can’t believe that Texas is using the media hype to humiliate and destroy both families of the convicted and the executed and of murder victims too. It reminds me of the Michael Jackson songs “Scream” and “They Don’t Care About Us” (R.I.P.). But anyway, I hope Texas will have a new governor who is not as baseless, rheortic, or too tough on crime like Perry. Until then, I will continue to pray for the families of murder victims, of those on death row, and of the executed like Willingham, and for Texas and the world, that they may one day realize the error of their ways and abolish a flawed and failing capital punishment system and find new ways to protect society from evil so that violence will be no more.

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  3. Also in Texas, just 2 days ago, Robert Springsteen was exonerated from death row, becoming the 139th person to be exonerated from death row since 1973. But I’m afraid that Texas is about to kill Khristian Oliver in almost one week, and Virginia will kill alleged sniper John Allen Muhammad in almost two weeks, both for murders in spite of unfair trials! The Khristian Oliver case is bound to prove that it doesn’t matter if Bible scripture or religion is allowed in courts or not, the criminal is still doomed to die! And allowing religion in courts even if it’s unconstitutuional may prove to be the last straw for all of us if Oliver is executed! This is so unfair, and I will continue to pray for them both. :(

  4. Ms. K-

    Good morning, I know I'll never change your mind concerning the legality and appropriatness of the death penalty. HOWEVER, I think it is insulting to the victims of CONVICTED John Allen Muhammed to use the word "alleged sniper". He is no longer an "alleged sniper".

    He is guilty, it's this thing call ballistics. The weapon used was in his "sniper friendly – modified car" while he was in the automobile with his accomplice. It matched ballistic tests for the weapon used to kill and injure several victims in Virginia and Maryland. It also "allegedly" ties him to murders in Alabama and Louisiana. His laptop (also in the car) kept track of all the locations of his crimes. Witnesses identified him being at at least one of the locations, and his car was identified by numerous witnesses to be located at numerous sites of the shootings. His (Muhammad's) voice matches that of a recording of a man calling a police hotline and demanding money before he would stop the killings.

    Killed – not allegedly, but really KILLED dead are –

    James Martin – 55yrs old
    James Buchanan – 39yrs old
    Premkumar Walekar – 54yrs old
    Sarah Ramos – 34yrs old
    Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera – 25yrs old
    Pascal Charlot – 72yrs old
    Dean Harold Meyers – 53yrs old
    Kenneth Bridges – 53yrs old
    Linda Franklin – 47yrs old
    Conrad Johnson – 35yrs old

    Fortunate to survive his attacks are:

    Caroline Seawell – 43yrs old (stay at home mother of two – shot in the middle of her back and the bullet exited through her chest)

    Iran Brown – 13yrs old (shot at 8am when he arrived to his middle school)

    Jeffrey Hoppe – 37yrs old (he and his wife were on a long road trip back home to florida when they stopped at a buffet. When leaving the restaurant to the car he was shot. 70% of his stomach was destroyed, he lost portions of his pancreas and spleen… and his liver, kidney, lung and rib cage were severely damaged).

    In addition to his CONVICTED crimes…his Additional "alledged" victims are Kenya Cook, Jerry Ray Taylor, Paul La Ruffa, Ropinder Obero, Muhammad Rahid, Million Woldermariam, Claudine Lee Parker, Kellie Adams, Hong Im Ballenger and Wright Williams Jr.

  5. Ms. K-

    Good morning, I know I’ll never change your mind concerning the legality and appropriatness of the death penalty. HOWEVER, I think it is insulting to the victims of CONVICTED John Allen Muhammed to use the word “alleged sniper”. He is no longer an “alleged sniper”.

    He is guilty, it’s this thing call ballistics. The weapon used was in his “sniper friendly – modified car” while he was in the automobile with his accomplice. It matched ballistic tests for the weapon used to kill and injure several victims in Virginia and Maryland. It also “allegedly” ties him to murders in Alabama and Louisiana. His laptop (also in the car) kept track of all the locations of his crimes. Witnesses identified him being at at least one of the locations, and his car was identified by numerous witnesses to be located at numerous sites of the shootings. His (Muhammad’s) voice matches that of a recording of a man calling a police hotline and demanding money before he would stop the killings.

    Killed – not allegedly, but really KILLED dead are -

    James Martin – 55yrs old
    James Buchanan – 39yrs old
    Premkumar Walekar – 54yrs old
    Sarah Ramos – 34yrs old
    Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera – 25yrs old
    Pascal Charlot – 72yrs old
    Dean Harold Meyers – 53yrs old
    Kenneth Bridges – 53yrs old
    Linda Franklin – 47yrs old
    Conrad Johnson – 35yrs old

    Fortunate to survive his attacks are:

    Caroline Seawell – 43yrs old (stay at home mother of two – shot in the middle of her back and the bullet exited through her chest)

    Iran Brown – 13yrs old (shot at 8am when he arrived to his middle school)

    Jeffrey Hoppe – 37yrs old (he and his wife were on a long road trip back home to florida when they stopped at a buffet. When leaving the restaurant to the car he was shot. 70% of his stomach was destroyed, he lost portions of his pancreas and spleen… and his liver, kidney, lung and rib cage were severely damaged).

    In addition to his CONVICTED crimes…his Additional “alledged” victims are Kenya Cook, Jerry Ray Taylor, Paul La Ruffa, Ropinder Obero, Muhammad Rahid, Million Woldermariam, Claudine Lee Parker, Kellie Adams, Hong Im Ballenger and Wright Williams Jr.

  6. Still, it is also noted that John Muhammad is believed to have suffered schizophrenia and other mental illness due to physical and mental abuse. But still, executing the guilty as well as the innocent is wrong.

  7. Thank you for acknowledging my post and not ignoring me.

    We won’t agree on much concerning this topic, but we can at least agree John Muhammad is not an ALLEGED sniper.