Texas Judge Opposes Death Penalty, Cites Risk of Wrongful Execution


A Republican judge on Texas’ highest court came out against the death penalty on Wednesday after voting to stay the execution of Scott Panetti, a death row inmate who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. 


Judge Tom Price of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals released a 6-page writ of dissent after he was out-voted by his peers 6-3 and Panetti’s stay was rejected.


Price wrote that the execution of a mentally-ill person violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. He also held that capital punishment should be done away with completely as long as there exists the remote possibility that an innocent person be put to death. 


“I have voted to grant numerous applications for writs of habeas corpus that have resulted in the release of dozens of people who were wrongfully convicted,” he wrote, “and I conclude that it is wishful thinking to believe that this state will never execute an innocent person for capital murder.”


Price cited the National Registry of Exonerations and noted that his state ranked highest in 2013. 


“These individuals who were exonerated proved that their convictions were erroneous based on DNA evidence that established their innocence, on the use of false evidence, or on other errors that occurred at their trials. I am convinced that, because the criminal justice system is run by humans, it is naturally subject to human error.”


Price went on to say that capital punishment is becoming obsolete since it was created to make sure dangerous criminals would never re-enter society. Now that the life without parole option is available, he wrote, capital punishment is not necessary to protect society from the offender.


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