blogadmin | 23 March, 2010 17:22
Image can be an transitory thing. Not so for Texas, with its enduring image of cowboys and cattle drives. Until recently.
International attention has zeroed in on Texas as the death penalty capital of the democratic world, with its record under Gov. Rick Perry and predecessor George W. Bush of carrying out half of the executions in a country that stands out as the sole democracy using capital punishment.
Even more disturbing is the image Texas has acquired from cases like that of Henry Skinner, scheduled for execution tomorrow despite untested evidence that might prove his innocence. His planned execution comes amid unresolved questions about Todd Willingham, whose execution in 2004 for arson murder has been condemned by experts as based on junk science.
There are others whose probable innocence troubles even those who had a hand in their executions, like Ruben Cantu and Carlos de Luna.
Until the Lone Star State either pursues justice more rigorously than executions or does away with its death penalty as too expensive, ineffective and error-prone, it must live with a new, emerging image: that of its titular head beside a white gurney occupied by a prone individual.
It might look like the inadvertently symbolic picture below, found on an official website of Gov. Perry's. Blur the face of the occupant and put a hypodermic in Perry's hand. You'll have the unfortunate new image of Texas.
Elizabeth Ann Stein produces EXECUTION WATCH on KPFT FM Houston 90.1, HD-2 and www.executionwatch.org. The program, hosted by Ray Hill, airs at 6 p.m. Central Time any day Texas executes someone. It is designed to counteract the virtual news blackout in the mainstream media when prisoners are executed. She has worked as a political reporter for United Press International, police reporter at a daily newspaper, and an editor for PC Week.