Friday, December 17, 2004


The highlights....

Poll: Texans still favor death penalty

Seven of 10 Texans believe the state has executed innocent people, but 75 percent also support continuing the death penalty
, according to the Scripps Howard Texas Poll.

The percentage of Texans who say the state has executed innocent inmates has increased 13 points since spring 2000.

But Dianne Clements, president of the victims’ advocacy group Justice for All, said she doubts innocent people have been executed. Those who believe innocent people have died is the result of a propaganda campaign by anti-death penalty groups, she said.

"It is all a theoretical idea," she said. "There is no proof."

The state perennially leads the nation in the number of executions annually and is often called the execution capital of the world.

Recent reports of crime lab snafus in Houston and the exoneration in October of former death row inmate Ernest Ray Willis may have contributed to the rising number of people who think the state executed innocent people, anti-death penalty activists say.

But even though support for the death penalty is strong, Texans are divided over a moratorium on executions so officials can study the issue. Fifty-two percent of Texans oppose a moratorium and 44 percent support the idea.

...Texas law allows for the execution of people who commit capital murder at the age of 17. So far the youngest people executed in Texas were 24 years old: Jay Pinkerton of Nueces County, executed in 1986, and Jesse De La Rosa of Bexar County, executed in 1985.

Fifty-one percent of Texans favor the law allowing for the execution of someone who committed capital murder at the age of 17, a 9-percentage point drop from February 2003.