The Houston Chronicle reports that Mark White, the only surviving former Democratic Governor of Texas, has rethought some of his positions on the death penalty. Those who watched the recent documentary on Ann Richards on HBO here in the last few days will surely remember White’s infamous commercial on capital punishment. He walked by gigantic portraits of the men put to death during his tenure, openly bragging about being responsible for their executions. The rhetoric was disturbing anyways, but especially so for a Democratic primary, which the ad aired during.
Speaking some 24 years later, White says the ad was “in poor taste” and regrets it, but he more importantly called for a general overhaul of death penalty mechanisms throughout the State. His impetus on this issue has been the botched execution in Oklahoma, where the state obtained a secret batch of pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy, much like Texas does for their executions. In Oklahoma, the result was a condemned man who suffered a terribly cruel and unusual punishment. Fortunately, in Texas, no much such has occurred…yet. While Oklahoma then promptly ordered a complete review of the death penalty, Texas has not done so.