When Rick Perry assumed the governorship in December, 2000, Texas was already the execution capital of the United States, responsible for more than a third of the nation’s executions since 1976. Now, almost eleven years later, the state has even further out-paced the rest of the country, with its share of executions growing to over 40 percent during Perry’s watch. Though it may be tempting—for either Perry’s supporters or his critics—to credit (or discredit) the governor with this super-sized slice of the pie chart of American executions, such an attribution would be in error. The sheer number of executions in Texas over the past decade reveals little about Perry the Governor, because the governor plays only a limited role in the state’s death penalty machinery. That said, Perry has injected himself into the issue of capital punishment in Texas on a number of key occasions—with regard to the appropriateness of capital punishment for offenders with mental retardation, as well as the procedures for investigating a possible wrongful conviction and execution—interventions that cast doubt on the transparency and judiciousness of his political leadership.
With few resources but the force of his title — U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions — Philip Alston holds governments accountable for the politically motivated killings they commit, or ignore.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — New death sentences in the United States were at or near a three-decade low this year and the number of people executed will be the lowest since 1994, according to a new report.
And the US is dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 1st Century.