The death penalty has firmly been established in the Texas criminal justice System from its inception in 1982. The justice system is convinced that through capital punishment, more future murders are discouraged. In the United States, Texas State has historically conducted capital punishment on the largest number of people annually. The death penalty system comprises several interconnected parts, and thus a problem at one point undermines the whole systems' sound procedures. There is need for a reform of the Texas death penalty because of reasons ranging from accounts of integrity and safety concerns, racisms, and misconducts committed by the justice system officials and capital prosecutors.
In Texas, the request for reform has been received by a deflection from some state officials, including governor Bush who has strongly defended the state. According to the Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team, the system must encompass enough checks and balances to ensure that no innocent person is wrongly executed and the public's trust in the criminal justice is preserved (Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty). However, the system has been faced with serious public safety concerns over its integrity because of the deficiency costs that it incurs. According to the Texas Judicial structure, a mistake in the administration of the death penalty, such as the killing of an innocent person, makes the system to incur very high financial costs. The courts and federal system spend substantial resources and time correcting these errors of the death penalty- errors that otherwise can be avoided in detriment of many innocent Texans that rely on the Justice System. The state's judicial system, therefore, often escapes this financial laden process through actions like a police officer covering their misconduct at the identification step.
Misconduct from the justice system officials includes such instances where a prosecutor fails to discharge their responsibility to learn, disclose, and utter the truth. According to a report on research conducted by Death Penalty Information Centre in the post Furman-era, 84 cases in which where a police officer or prosecutor intentionally presented wrong testimony, hidden exculpatory evidence, or used defective proof from a jailhouse informer. Of the 84 cases, 41 of them were misconducts where state officials deliberately thwarted the truth process and engaged in presentation of misleading evidence. The other 43 cases were the instances where justice prosecutors relied on a fundamental but unreliable testimony of jailhouse snitches despite the apparent risk that many prison informants may fake stories to get mercy from the authorities (Death Penalty Information Centre). Through assessments done by Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team, several men who were on the Texas death row have been released because they are found innocent. The current justice system in Texas also limits a defendant to get a review of their case state and federal court. These new procedures that limit defendants make it more-worse of the fact that truths about misconduct conducted by the officials will never come to light.
Misinformation presented to the Jury by a deceptive expert is another reason why the Texas death penalty procedures are not fair and should be reformed. Some cases that involve junk science such as likelihoods of future dangerousness, and proofs of hair comparison. Additionally, research conducted by Death Penalty Information Centre, indicate that of the 160 cases of dubious scientific evidence facts, 121 circumstances involved instances when an expert psychiatrist testified with surety that the accused would pose a greater danger in the future. In most of these scenarios, the conclusions by the scientists were only drawn from hypothetical questions or only on the most unconvincing interviews with the defendants. And in the remaining cases of the 162, the researchers reported that the courts relied on comparison proofs (Death Penalty Information Centre). Since the case records and opinions are not made available, then only a few cases can be proven to have been based upon reliance on junk scientific convictions; this makes the death penalty unfair and in need of urgent reformation to avoid innocent executions.
According to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty 2016 report, the application of death penalties is still racially-biased, with over 80% death sentences being imposed on people of color in the last five years (Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty 5). Death Penalty Information Centre's (2019) research findings show that death punishment is used mostly on individuals convicted for murdering white women than non-white women. White women comprise of the smallest number of murder victims. Non-whites and mostly African-American males are most likely to face the death penalty without the correct assessment procedures.
The reasons that present the Texas death penalty as problematic are fixable and does not call for the complete abolition of this capital punishment but rather an immediate reform. There is a need for guidelines that ensure that all law enforcement agencies to adopt the provisions of the Model policy that outlines the lowest requirements for conducting identifications. The law should provide remedies for organizations' noncompliance with state-approved identification procedures. Additionally, it is essential that biological evidences used for comparison be conserved. Generally, to avoid cases of wrong testimonies and racial disparities, the Texas Capital Sentencing Structure should be restructured to prevent the possibility of wrong jury decisions. To avoid cases of "future dangerousness," it is necessary that the Texas Code of criminal procedures be amended to narrow the comprehension and clarity of future dangerousness. If possible, also the scientific expert testimonies of a propensity of a person to commit crime should be prohibited.
To conclude, several changes in concern of the death penalty system have previously been implemented by the Texas state, but only a little has been implemented to repair the system. The above-mentioned problem areas confirm a critical need for reformation of the system. Capital punishment in Texas remains racially biased and promiscuously applied as long as the justice system does not make a reform.
Death Penalty Information Centre. "A State of Denial: Texas Justice and the Death Penalty." 2019, deathpenaltyinfo.org/stories/a-state-of-denial-texas-justice-and-the-death-penalty.
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2016: The Year in Review." TCADP - Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, 2016, tcadp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Texas-Death-Penalty-Developments-in-2016.pdf.
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