“…nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted” is still the only legislation about that we need to refer to with regard to the death penalty. Unfortunately, Texas still joins that small club of uncivilized states, like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, in executing its own citizens. Perhaps this taint on my fine state could be mitigated ever so slightly by a new piece of legislation.
Senator Rodney Ellis has introduced SB1292 which would require DNA testing of all pertinent evidence in death penalty cases. There have been many examples of the wrong man being sentenced to death in Texas, and a few of them actually being executed. However, the case that stands out in my mind the most is Kerry Max Cook. Cook was a guest speaker at my High School during my senior year, and presented a vivid indictment of the justice system and just how perilously he came to death at the hands of my state. Even my more conservative friends agreed afterwards that Texas’s capital punishment should not be practiced. Cook spent 22 years on death row for a rape and murder he did not commit. He was finally exonerated partially as a result of DNA testing.
Ideally, Ellis’s bill would make sure this would never happen again, and it got some pretty high-profile support today from Greg Abbbott. I hope the bill passes, simply for the reason that it could reduce the number of executions.