Exoneree: Guantanamo Bay Is "Peanuts Compared to What's Going On In" Texas

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medium.jpg
Via.
Anthony Graves, exonerated from death row in 2010
As "the death chaplain" at Huntsville prison, Reverend Carroll Pickett has counseled 95 prisoners, one at a time, on the day the state has scheduled to end their life. Death by lethal injection, the chaplain found, is not a quiet exit. It's torturous. It's not fool-proof. And there's no guarantee that everyone put to death is guilty.

"That cruel and unusual punishment starts the minute they walk in the death house ... It's not painless. It is not painless," Pickett said last night at SMU, where was joined for a panel discussion by death row exonerees Anthony Graves and Clarence Brandley. (Brandley also spoke at an SMU death row exoneree panel last year).

"There are botched executions. I've been there. I saw it," Pickett said.

He supported capital punishment when he started his job in 1982, but death after tortuous death wore away at him. "This one young man, they tried and they tried and they tried, and they couldn't find a place to put a needle in that would flow properly," he said.

The man had abused drugs enough to know how to effectively tap into his veins. He was permitted to sit up and demonstrate the most effective way to put him to death. His instructions worked, the lethal liquids flowed, and his life drained. After 45 minutes of being stuck with needles, "he just wanted the pain over," Pickett said.

Graves was sentenced to lay on the same gurney for a 1992 murder. The original suspect, who has since been put to death for the brutal small-town Texas homicide, told police that Graves was also involved. After awaiting trial for two and a half years, Graves went to trial in front of a jury of 11 white people and one black man. The black foreman of the jury tearfully handed the judge the verdict: guilty. Like his accuser, Graves was sentenced to death.

He later learned that prosecutors had withheld the man's admission that he lied, and that the prosecution said they would charge the man's wife if he did not implicate Graves. "We have a failed and broken system today," Graves said, stressing a lack in accountability.

"It changed my whole world. It changed the world of my family," Graves said. "I was the next dead man walking for a crime I did not commit."

"All that stuff that's going on in Guantanamo Bay, that's peanuts compared to what's going on in your backyard," Graves said. "I was a good father, but the state of Texas took that from me in your name."

In 2010, after 18 years in prison, police came to Graves's cell and walked him down the hall to meet his attorney. The charges against him had been dropped, she told him. That day, he walked out of prison unshackled and in civilian clothes. He called his mother from the parking lot.

"Mom, what are you cooking?" he asked, as he always had from prison. This time, instead of imagining the food, he told her, "Your son is coming home."

Across the United States, 3,200 people are currently on death row; Texas has put the most people to death "out of any jurisdiction anywhere in the world," said Dr. Rick Halperin, SMU human rights program director.

"The death penalty is not an act; the death penalty is a process ... of psychological torture that either can conclude in an execution or can conclude in a release," Halperin said. He added that the death certificates filled out when prisoners pass away have several options under "Cause of Death," and that a specific box is checked when a prisoner is purposefully put to death: homicide.

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beats special edition

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james
james

i've been asking the same question. the criminals who steal a human beings life and reputation under color of law to make themselves look like shining white knights  need to be punished. watkins is great for digging out some of these crime victims, but what about justice for them? what about justice for those who died while wrongly incarcerated?

MBM
MBM

If you come to Texas and kill somebody...we'll kill you back.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

If Texas executed every murderer, murders would be very rare in the state, because we know that murder/suicides are a rare type of murder.

Texas has had about 65,000 murders (guesstimate of 1700 murders/yr)  from 1973-2011 and only 478 executions, or 0.74%.

NatWu
NatWu

You mean if we executed them before they murder? Because the vast majority of them either don't think they'll get caught or they don't think about it at all. The death penalty is a paltry deterrent, at best. 

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

I have never seen an exoneration where the name of the prosecutor was not known. And police investigators names could always be researched, if someone wished to.

This is all public information.

I suspect it would be a very small number of cases and an incredibly small percentage of all cases where the DA or investigators knew thir were investigating or prosecuting an innocent person. First, very few would be that morally corrupt. Secondly, the don't have the time or resources to pursue the wrong persons.

james
james

1 is too dam many!  and i'm sure very few politicians or their office underlings are that morally corrupt. and anyone convictable is worth the pursuit to a criminal politician needing a stepping stone. so why isn't henry wade being charged with stealing lives and freedom? and yes i believe EVERY PERSON CONVICTED BY WADE'S OFFICE SHOULD BE RETRIED IN FRONT OF AN HONEST COURT. and i question the honesty of every court he's been in. when the people who are supposed to enforce the law are worse than the criminals on the street, then how do we teach children to respect that? or do we teach them to hold the law and everyone accociated with it in total contempt mixed with fear of being in its  crosshairs. that's probably the safest way.

derp
derp

fuck the Texas legal system. That is all.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Thats a question i've been asking myself. Why not expose bad DAs and prosecutors who refuse to do their job and instead prosecute any random brother or cholo on the street..

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

follow the money. Oh, and the fact that if that happened, every case they ever tried would have to be retried.

fdup2
fdup2

I will listen to this argument when you tell me how many innocent babies have been murdered in TX...

Guest
Guest

A few, but as far as anyone knows, none by Anthony Graves.

Murder is an entirely legal term, however, so, you know, abortions can't currently be considered murder. Unless and until the law is changed, you can't expect any state police agency to take action in the criminal justice universe to prevent them.

Other crimes, though, like manufacturing evidence, suborning perjury, tampering with witnesses, withholding exculpatory information, etc. are currently against the law. You'd think that the fact that we have admitted criminals working as police and prosecutors who are routinely letting murders and rapists and other criminals go just so they don't have to comport with the law of the land would give you pause, but if your position is that people should continue to be murdered and raped and otherwise victimized (according to our current laws) while innocent people sit in prison (and are often later released at great taxpayer expense) until the law is changed to outlaw abortion, then I hope that you are repeatedly victimized by people who would have been in jail had the police and prosecution bothered to follow the law and get the right person in the first place.

oak cliff girl
oak cliff girl

This is a sobering piece. We must work to make the death penalty rare-and if we use it-the evidence must be ironclad and the process as humane as medically possible. This is not something to joke about.

james
james

personally, i'd rather be murdered than locked up like a dog for life, whether i did the crime or not.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

The death penalty is very rare, as compared to all murders or even all capital murders.

Folks support the death penalty for the same reason folks support all sanctions, which is they find them just and proportional to the crime committed.

Guest
Guest

It's okay, though, when police and prosecutors conspire to put the wrong people behind bars, it usually only results in a handful of additional people being murdered or raped or whatever by the real perpetrator. Just because Debra Baker's kids, in one example, had to grow up without their mother is no reason to worry about getting it right the first time.

And, surely, since there's absolutely no punishment for sending the wrong person to jail, even when you do it deliberately by hiding or manufacturing evidence or misstating scientific findings, there's no reason to worry about police and prosecutors continually breaking the law and the rules.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

SI:

I don't think anyone finds those actions OK.

Any intentional hiding of evidence should have serious consequences, inclusive of the death penalty for any person who manufactures evidence of guilt or hides evidence of innocence, which results in an innocent executed.

Consider that innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives Of all human endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely. 1) "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents" http://homicidesurvivors.com/2... 2) Opponents in capital punishment have blood on their hands, Dennis Prager, 11/29/05, http://townhall.com/columnists... 3) "A Death Penalty Red Herring: The Inanity and Hypocrisy of Perfection", Lester Jackson Ph.D., http://www.tcsdaily.com/articl... The false innocence claims by anti death penalty activists are both blatant and legendary. Some examples: 4) "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"http://homicidesurvivors.com/2... 5) The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scamhttp://homicidesurvivors.c...

NatWu
NatWu

If you're going to cite something, you should try factual information. Like, you know, The Innocence Project. http://www.innocenceproject.or...

It's also a good idea to not cite yourself as a source when you don't then have any factual citations in your post. Your assertion that "innocents are more at risk without the death penalty" isn't borne out by any statistics, nor is it given much credence by the experts. Refer to http://www.jstor.org/stable/11...

Just consider some data. Texas has one of the highest overall crime rates in the nation, but we have the single highest amount of executions. New Hampshire, on the other hand, has a very low crime rate and has had no executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 76. Or, in a more direct comparison, California also has lower crime than us and also has only executed 13 people since 76. 

Furthermore, crime trends have nothing to do with whether we're executing more people or less. You can look at the stats for that on your own, but crime rates have been falling nationwide for the past 4 years, even as the number of convicts given the death penalty has fallen. And you don't see a noticeable rise in violent crime in the period of 72 to 76.

In short, the numbers simply don't match up. If you want to continue to argue that you believe the death penalty is a just punishment for the crime committed, go ahead. Just don't argue that it has any real power to stop more violent crimes, because that's demonstrably untrue.

NatWu
NatWu

I don't think you understand how crime is measured if you think the current reduction in crime has anything to do with the death penalty! You're so blinded by your faith in the death penalty that you can't accept the honest truth, which is that at best its contribution to crime rate reduction is paltry. The data you cite doesn't even being to imply that the death penalty actually has anything to do with it.

Anybody can see the stats for themselves and realize the two aren't connected. You can try to argue it however you want, with your "if we executed all murderers" and such, but theoretical models should not only have predictive powers for cases we haven't seen yet, but should also at least give results that match observed fact. You can look at Texas stats and see the lack of connection yourself.

The last leg you have to stand on is your assertion that "the presence of the death penalty will always result in a net lower number of executions than if the death penalty was not present" and yet there is absolutely no data and no science to back that up. We have every reason to believe that murderers are people exceptionally lacking in impulse control and/or overburdened with anger issues, and these are not the kinds of people who would think about getting caught or punished! 

You know, I don't mind the idea of killing those who have murdered others. It's not some moral thing with me. It's a practical thing. We have innocent men on death row, for sure. We are as certain as we can be that we have executed innocent men. But we are uncertain as to whether the death penalty has any effect on crime at all. 

NatWu
NatWu

Nor will they if you put them in jail. We just don't because we don't worry about whether any of them are innocent or not. Which is the same argument Dudley is basically using.

james
james

if you kill a bad rabid animal that has been killing/hurting people, then the particular bad rabid animal will NOT kill/hurt  anyone else.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Arcticredriver:

I was simply replying to the very misleading post by  Natwu, right above my post. Please read hers and that will put mine in context.

As I told NatWu, below, in agreement with you, he/she does not understand how deterrence is measured.

Of course the death penalty deters, as all prospects of a negative outcome deter some.  Lowering murder rates MIGHT, in some cases, reflect a deterrent effect, but the reality is that whether rates go up down or stay the same, the presence of the death penalty will always result in a net lower number of executions than if the death penalty was not present.  Deterrence means that there is a net reduction in murders, over what there would have been without the death penalty, regardless of any rise of fall in total murders.

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

    

Arcticredriver
Arcticredriver

Dudleysharp, you write that murder rates are down, in the USA, and attribute this to a rise in executions.  But aren't murder rates down, all over?  Toronto, the city I live in, has always had a lower murder rate compared to similar size US cities.  The murder rate is down here too -- but we have no death penalty.

There are lots of possible explanations for murder rates going down. 

Maybe murder is a young man's crime?  The USA, like Canada, and Europe, had a demographic bulge.  When baby boomers were young, the murder rate was up.  Now that boomers are middle-aged murder rates are down.  Why isn't this just as adequate an explanation as yours?

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

1. The United States has had double digit executions, annually, since 1984

Murders are at a 43 year low.

Murder rates are at a 48 year low.

It's not surprising that death sentences are at a 35 year low.

2. Double digit annual executions stopped in the US in 1964 and resumed in 1984. murders in 1964 9, 360 murders in 1984 18,670 a 100% increase 3. There was a moratorium on all executions in the US from 1967 to 1977 murders is 1967 were 12, 240 murders in 1977 were 19,120 a 56% increase United States Crime Datahttp://www.disastercenter.com/...

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

My information is accurate and citations are provided, when needed. You misunderstand how deterrence is measured. Please review:

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/... The are at least 28 recent studies since 2000, finding for death penalty deterrence

28 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenal...

Here is an updated review of the criminologists' take on death penalty deterrence.

"Deterrence & the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2...

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

My information is accurate and citations are provided, when needed. You misunderstand how deterrence is measured

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/... The are at least 28 recent studies since 2000, finding for death penalty deterrence 28 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundationhttp://www.cjlf.org/deathpenal...

Here is an updated review of the criminologists' take on death penalty deterrence."Deterrence & the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"http://homicidesurvivors.com/2...

Melanie
Melanie

Well hot damn then....we all need to let Rick Perry know we want jobs as D/A's or Judge's or Prosecutor's or Cop's - then we can find anyone who pisses us off quilty of bogus charges and have them executed. And year's later when discovered just say..............oooopppssss - oh well , it could have been

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Texas has put the most people to death "out of any jurisdiction anywhere in the world," said Dr. Rick Halperin, SMU human rights program director. If Halperin said that, it is false and totally absurd and he knows it.China executes more every year that Texas has, ever. Fact check.

Dudleyainttoosharp
Dudleyainttoosharp

dudley, you dont get it. Dumbass.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Certainly, I get when someone, as Halperin, makes a completely false statement, which was what I was responding to.

Sadly, you are thoughtless.

Jotman
Jotman

Comparing apples and oranges does not a fact check make. Texas is a state.  China is a county.  It may be that no province of Chinese puts as many people to death as the State of Texas. 

Provinces of Chinahttp://visitbulgaria.info/file...

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jotman:

As is clear, Halperin compared apples to oranges. You as others have a hard time both reading and understanding what you read.

Halprin said "any" jurisdiction "anywhere" in the  world.

Of course, he was dead wrong. "Any" "anywhere"

Jotman, if you wish Halperin to change his claim, you may do so. But don't try to make up  what Halperin said when it was quite clear.

Haperin's statement was both stupid and untrue, as he knows (if he said it).

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jotman:

I know you're new to this discussion.

But there is a character named Jotman, who keeps moving the bar, in every successive post, because Jotman's nonsense never holds up to scrutiny, because Jotman knows nothing about which Jotman speaks, it is all speculation by Jotman, so Jotman keeps moving thew bar, not knowing where any bar really is, because Jotman never has any facts to back up Jotman's blind speculations, which are based upon an original claim by Halperin, which Jotman agrees may have been a misquote, yet Jotman tries to defend the nonsense statement anyway, a defense based upon Jotman's ignorance. A fellow named Sharp knows the facts and presents them.

As your new to the discussion, here is Halperin's statement, from the very article, just above:

Texas has put the most people to death "out of any jurisdiction anywhere in the world,"

Jotman, if English is a second language for you, may be I need to explain.

"Has put" is unqualified by time.

"Most people" means a total number of people executed, not per capita, per murder, etc.

"ANY jurisdiction ANYWHERE in the world" means out of

"ALL" jurisdictions, with no qualifications, just as

"ANYWHERE" means everywhere.

As I said originally, it is total nonsense by Halperin and he knows it (if he said it).

What happens, when all you have at a conference is anti death penalty folks, including reporters who fact check nothing, then folks just blindly accept stuff and even try to defend it, when it is indefensible.

Since your brand new to the discussion, I hope that brings you up to date.

Jotman
Jotman

dudleysharp:

The table reads: "Cumulative Executions: 1976-August 2, 2011."  That's an aggregate total for 35 years.  The question is, which years is Halperin referring to?    Past 5 years?  2010 only?  2009-2010?   We don't know.  But you can't point to the table and say Halperin is wrong based on the totals there, that's my point.

The quote in the article is presumably referring to the situation in the last several years.  In recent years Texas is executing a lot of people, in Oklahoma few relative to past years.

I don't have the numbers to prove Halperin is right.  However, you haven't proved he's wrong.  Until you can prove him wrong, the "intellectually honest" thing is to either give him the benefit of the doubt for now (which I'm prepared to do on account of his expertise in this area relative to my own) or to say you're skeptical. 

Our fact-checking has only shown his statement could conceivably be true, presuming it's per-capita executions he meant.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jotman:

I said in the beginning "If Halperin said it". But you wouldn't buy it. You just kept saying Halperin meant this or that. You were simply being intellectually dishonest and making excuses.

Now that you were wrong on every single point, you have finally said Halperin might have been misquoted.

And you can't even read or do the math.

The per capita numbers run through Aug 2, 2011 and you are talking about adding 2010 executions to the calculations. Ugh..

As of Aug 2011, Oklahmona was about 40% higher than Texas on per capita executions.

Be intellectually honest, next time.

Why don't you research when the executions per capita was "high" and show us? We have always executed a very low percentage per murder and, of ocurse, it will be a much smaller per capita percentage.

Jotman
Jotman

dudleysharp:

Trying to make sense of a comment isn't the same thing as "making stuff up."  Maybe you've never been misquoted by a reporter, or seen a sentence you spoke to a journalist cut off.  Believe me it happens all the time.   Getting to the point of what the speaker must have meant is the important thing here.

That chart puts Texas in 2nd place over a 35 year period.  Oklahoma isn't executing as many people in recent years (2 in 2010), though Texas executed many (17 in 2010). Texas may be the leader in per-capita executions now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

How many citizens per capita a particular government kills is good to know. Before the modern era, the number was high.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jotman:

Funny, you just keep making things up as to what Halperin meant, when it was quite clear what he said.

And he is wrong no matter how you do the math.

But Jotman now thinks Halperin meant per capita, even though there is zero reason to believe that is what Halperin meant.

Halperin said that Texas executes the most people of any jurisdiction anywhere. That is total numbers, not per capita. It's total nonsense and false as already proven.

Even in the US, Texas isn't the leader in "death sentences per murder" or "executions per murder". This is a very well known study that Halperin is aware of.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02...

Just as with:Texas is far below Oklahoma in executions per capita.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.or...

But executions per capita is a silly evaluation, because we don't give death sentences or executions per capita, but per murder, the relevant category.

Jotman
Jotman

dudleysharp:

Thanks for digging that up.  In 1999 only 3 provinces in China had more than 100 executions, the rest had around 50 or fewer.  If we had more recent figures, the population of the high execution provinces of China would be something to look at.  

I now think what Halperin likely meant by his statement was that Texas puts to death more people [per capita] than any jurisdiction in the world. He either forgot to say "per capita" or was misquoted by the reporter.   This seems entirely plausible considering that many Chinese provinces have a population greater than Texas, and knowing that Texas executed 17 people in 2010.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

jotman.

Look, Halperin and I know a lot about the death penalty.

It's a BS statement by Halperin and he knows it (if he made it).

One province in China had over 250 executions in 1999, alone.  And that is that we know of.  Most reputable sources state that China executes many more than we know.

Next.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/libr...

Jotman
Jotman

dudleysharp:

The U.S. puts more people to death than Texas. That's why I think comparing states to nations cannot be not what Halperin intended.

jfpo
jfpo

So one exaggerated statement makes what's going on in Texas OK?

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

No a factually inaccurate statement is only a factually inaccurate statement.

What makes executions OK is that they are founded in justice and they helpt to spare more innocent lives.

Different topics.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Based upon what I have read, eyewitness ID is the most error prone.

But, what I haven't seen is the overall error rate based upon wrongful eyewitness ID.

Meaning,

Of all criminal cases whereby guilt was "established" by eyewitness testiminy, what percentage of those have we found to be actually innocent? 1%, 10%, 40, 60?

I suspect that there have been many thousands (or tens or hundreds of thousands) of eyewitness ID's since 1973, with a very small percentage having been found guilty solely based upon that ID and then later found to be actually innocent. In other words, eyewitness testimony may be 90% accurate and it could still be the most error prone.

I don't know what the actual figures are. Does anyone know?

Please refer me to a study if you have one. Thank you.

I'll do a little looking, myself.

Arcticredriver
Arcticredriver

Eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Your Innocence Project link goes to a page that is speaking of all DNA exonerations, for all jail sentences.

No one says it is just to find innocent folks guilty.

I think we all know that all human endeavors have error.

The point was that all criminal sanctions are based upon a just, proportional sanction for the crime committed.

That is the foundation of why we all support certain sanctions.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

My review of the nonsense New Yorker article on Willingham, as well as a series of articles on Willingham.

"Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown", A Collection of Articles http://homicidesurvivors.com/c...

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Claude Jones

The guilt of Jones is solid without the hair, just using the single link from the Innocence Project.

He was the only criminal who matched the eyewitness description, along with other evidence.

http://www.innocenceproject.or...

In addition, we have this:

In addition to that murder, Jones had these other known offenses:

1976-1984 served time in Kansas prison for robbery, murder and assault.

1959 robbery, assault, burglary, theft Texas prison

released early.

1963 theft Texas prison

released early

1989 Jones is a suspect in a 1989 bank robbery, committed days before the murder that put him on death row.

Jones, a career criminal. There is no way to know how many additional crimes he committed

http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/st...

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