Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Texas Should Halt All Executions Pending Outcome of Baze/Bowling

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision today to hear a case from Kentucky regarding the constitutionality of lethal injection as a means of execution should spark states to place a temporary moratorium on executions using that method until the case is decided. Read the coverage from the NY Times. The supreme Court has agreed to hear the case in which two petitioners claim that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Some states will probably choose to voluntarily put off executions until the case is decided, but Texas may try to barrel ahead and execute as many people as possible until a court tells them to stop. Texas had scheduled five executions of juvenile offenders in 2004 after learning that the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to take up the issue of executions of juvenile offenders. The five scheduled executions were later put on hold pending the U.S. Supreme Court decision on juvenile offenders. The court ruled in 2005 that such executions were cruel and unusual punishment.

We call on Governor Perry to use his office to stop executions in Texas pending the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Ralph Baze and Thomas C. Bowling. Perry can stop executions by using his power to halt any execution for 30 days. He can also ask the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend a longer stay on any pending execution. He can also request that district attorneys stop requesting that convicting courts set execution dates and for DAs to ask courts to withdraw any dates already set. Perry can provide the leadership that persuades district attorneys and the judicial system to halt executions.

Texas district attorneys should also ask convicting courts to withdraw any execution dates already set.

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