During the recent Republican Presidential debate, Rick Perry was asked if he struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of the 234 death row inmates the state of Texas kills every year, might have been innocent. Perry answered that the courts in Texas have a great record for quality convictions, so he had no problem ordering 234 executions over his 11 years as Governor.
“No sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” he said. “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.”
“If you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with 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.”
Exactly how sound is this ‘thoughtful and clear’ process in Texas anyway? Apparently, not so clear. In fact, it’s quite foggy.
Over the last 9 years of Perry’s 11 years in power, DNA evidence has exonerated 41 prisoners convicted in that thoughtful, clear Texas system. That’s 41 people who went to prison, and were later found innocent of a crime they had been convicted of.
And what’s even worse, in 2004, Perry allowed the execution of a death row inmate named Cameron Todd Willingham. Mr Willingham was accused and convicted – using that thoughtful, clear process – of setting a fire that killed his three daughters. He was put to death, although evidence, scientists and forensics experts doubted the prosecution’s case against him. Rick Perry even went as far as shutting down an official investigation into the case and execution.
The fact that Rick Perry stopped the investigation is proof that valid questions about the execution were being asked, which would also suggest that maybe, just maybe an innocent man was killed under Perry’s watch. But why would Perry lose sleep over that? He is after all, a modern day Republican governor and doesn’t believe in all that scientific mumbo-jumbo, forensic-smorensic nonsense.
Hang ’em high! Yee-hah!!