Texas carries out 200th execution under current governor

Texas carried out its 200th execution under the eight-and-a-half year governorship of Richard Perry on Tuesday. Terry Lee Hankins, 34, was executed by lethal injection shortly after 6pm Texas time. He had been sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder of two of his wife’s children in 2001.

Terry Hankins was the 16th person to be executed in Texas this year, out of a national total of 30. This was the 1,166th execution to be carried out in the USA since judicial killing resumed there in 1977, with Texas accounting for 439 of them. Another five men are currently scheduled to be put to death in Texas by mid-September.

Richard Perry was sworn in as Governor of Texas on 21 December 2000, following the election of the previous governor, George W Bush, to the office of US President.

There were 152 executions in Texas during nearly six years of the Bush governorship (1995-2000). The combined total of more than 350 executions in Texas under these two governors represents 30 per cent of the national total since 1977.

Virginia is ranked second to Texas in executions. In 30 years, Virginia has killed 103 people in its death chamber, half the number put to death in Texas in eight years.

Texas is home to about seven per cent of the population of the USA and is where fewer than 10 per cent of the country’s murders occur. The state accounts for 37 per cent of the USA’s executions since 1977, and 41 per cent since 2001.

An Amnesty International report looks back at a few of the cases of prisoners executed in Texas during Governor Perry’s term in office, and forward to a few cases that may yet come across his desk.

Published on 30 April, USA: Too much cruelty, too little clemency: Texas nears 200th execution under current governor considers a number of issues and places them in the context of an executive clemency system in Texas which is far from the “failsafe” against injustice it purports to be.

Among other issues, the report details the state’s use of the death penalty against young offenders and the execution of condemned inmates suffering from serious mental illness.

Amnesty International has urged Governor Perry to speak out for an end to this cruel and unnecessary punishment. The organization has called on the Governor to work with the state legislature to abolish the death penalty in Texas. Meanwhile, the organization says that he and the parole board should do all in their power to prevent further executions in Texas.