Kristin Houlé, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, joined Loud & Clear on Radio Sputnik to explain why she is optimistic and believes that the Democratic Party has finally come around.
“I think that the Democratic Party has recognized what a long and growing list of civic and religious organizations have realized, that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, and that it is on it’s way out in this country,” Houlé stated.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, more than 1,200 people have been executed in the United States, and 36% those executions have taken place in the state of Texas.
“Those are appalling numbers, I think, though it’s really important to look at current practices, and when we measure the death penalty, both in terms of new death sentences and executions, we can see a precipitous decline in both measures,” she said.
“Last year there were just 28 executions across the nation, which was the fewest executions in more than two decades, and this year we have had just 14 executions nationwide. Even in Texas the number of executions is slowly declining.”
Houlé then explained, in her home state of Texas, the number of those being sentenced to execution has dropped 80% since the 1990s. She believes that these numbers represent a larger nationwide movement away from the death penalty.
Many, including Houlé, argue that the death penalty is applied far too often on the basis of race, and that many states do not take seriously the laws against executing someone who is mentally ill.
“Death, even by lethal injection, is a cruel punishment. One need only look at the recent Ohio case of Romell Broom for a demonstration of that proposition. Although the executioners spent over two hours attempting to find a vein through which to administer the lethal injection, they ultimately failed. Subsequently, the governor granted a one-week reprieve. Broom remains on death row today. A more chilling definition of cruel is hard to imagine,” Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill wrote in a 2013 dissent.
Capital punishment is practiced in only 37 countries worldwide, and the United States is one of only five industrialized nations considered to be “democracies” that continues to execute convicts for any crimes.