The Decline of Death Sentences in the United States
The leveling of death sentences by American courts is not a secret. However, there has been a decline in the number of jurisdictions imposing death penalties in the recent past. Despite the decline, Texas still leads the country's executions. Texas is estimated to have executed approximately 543 inmates since 1976. Despite Texas leading in the country's executions, its propensity to issue death sentence has declined significantly with only four death sentences being issued in 2016 unlike in 1999 when a whopping forty eight death sentences were issued (Fowler, 379). In spite of the decline, the issue of death penalty in Texas is still a controversial topic.
The Philosophy of Punishment in Texas
Texas uses the philosophy of punishment to deal with criminals. Punishment involves inflicting pain on criminals. According to the pro-punishment argument, punishment through the infliction of pain on criminals is not inherently wrong because it is not the same as inflicting pain on innocent persons (Pollock, 3). In Texas, the jury is required to make three determine whether the defendant's actions were deliberate with the expectation of death to occur, whether the defendant was actions were as a reaction to provocation by the deceased if any, or whether there are probabilities of the defendant committing future criminal acts of violence thus constituting a continuing danger to society. The jury will, therefore, issue either a death sentence or life imprisonment verdict depending on the justification of the above determinations (Pearlman, 656).
Texas' Political Culture and Support for the Death Penalty
Texas use of the punishment approach in dealing with criminals is consistent with its political culture. In Texas, it is difficult for candidates opposing death punishment to get elected. Mostly those opposed to the death punishment find themselves on the defensive and are often labeled as siding with criminals (Dieter, 7). It is also evident that the Texas governor is in support of death punishment. The governor has the powers to either commute or grants a reprieve (Stoddard).
Controversies Surrounding Capital Punishment
There are several controversies surrounding capital punishment today. Both gender and racial discrimination are part of the problems surrounding capital punishment. According to studies, there is a stark gender difference in the number of criminals convicted with capital punishment (Pearlman, 656). For instance, in Texas, only one woman has been executed in the last fifteen years compared to 144 male executions (Pearlman, 656). There are also racial discrepancies in executions whereby more than a third death sentences are imposed on Blacks. Studies also show that Blacks are likely to be executed for killing Whites and Whites are less likely to be executed for killing Blacks (Pearlman, 656).
Supporters and Opposers of the Death Penalty
Death penalty has continued to receive support and opposition in equal measures. Supporters of death punishment argue that it can be used to deter and control criminal acts such as terrorism. For instance, those in support of death penalty quote the 1995s terror attack of the Oklahoma City that was orchestrated by an American citizen (Dieter, 2). They, therefore, believe that death sentence will critical in reducing crime and acts of violence. On the other hand opposers of death sentence argue that some innocent persons may be placed on the death row. Most innocent persons are often executed due to ineffective investigations and weaker defenses in court. Opposers of the death penalty also believe that it is not morally wrong to take the life of another human being (Dieter, 8).
The Controversy and Importance of the Death Penalty in Texas
The death penalty is a controversial issue in most states in America. Some of the controversies surrounding capital punishment are the gender and racial disparity of its application. Cases of death penalties have significantly declined. Despite the decline, Texas leads the country in executions. Texas uses the punishment approach in dealing with criminals. The death penalty has received support and condemnation in equal measures. Its supporters believe that it will curb crimes such as terrorism while its opposers argue that it increases the chances of innocent persons being executed.
Dieter, Richard C. "Changing Views on the Death Penalty in the United States." 2007, deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/pdf/Beijing07.pdf.
Fowler, Brittany. "A Shortcut to Death: How the Texas Death-Penalty Statute Engages the Jury’s Cognitive Heuristics in Favor of Death." vol. 96, no. 379, 2017, pp. 379-398, texaslawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Fowler.pdf.
Pearlman, Theodore. "The Ethics of the Texas Death Penalty and Its Impact on a Prolonged Appeals Process." J Am Acad Psychiatry Law, vol. 26, no. 4, 1998, pp. 655-660, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9d0e/11d048c56061255a5ac6788b72bbdae85520.pdf.
Pollock, Joycelyn. "The Rationale for Imprisonment." Texas State University, 2005, www.jblearning.com/samples/0763729043/Chapter_01.pdf.