TEXAS (KFDX/KJTL) — Death sentences are at historic lows in Texas, according to a recently released report by the Texas Coalition to abolish the death penalty.
Rodney Reed rally: “doing everything we can to not only to free our brother from death row but to abolish the death sentence at the same time.”
Rodney Reed’s case is one that sparked nationwide attention.
Randi Hensley, protest organizer, said, “those kinds of things really put a human face on what the death penalty is and those are really really important.”
Kristin Houle is the executive director of the Texas Coalition to abolish the death penalty.
Kristin Houle said, “I do believe that as people learn more about the realities of the death penalty and the risk of executing an innocent person, they come to abandon their support for the death penalty altogether.”
She said that’s the case over the last two decades.
Houle said, “the number of death sentences have dropped from a peak of 48 death verdicts back in 1999 to 4 death sentences this year. It’s the fifth year in a row that death sentences have numbered in the single digits.”
One of the reasons for the decline, she says, is the 2005 law allowing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Houle said, “it has provided prosecutors with a great deal of discretion in terms of how they handle capital cases, such that prosecutors throughout the state simply are not seeking the death penalty as often as they used to.”
The coalition’s report shows Texas juries also rejected the death penalty in half the cases presented to them this year
Executions also declined this year, with nine executions this year compared to 13 in 2018.
Overall, there were 22 executions nationwide in 2019, and there were several death-penalty related bills filed during the 86th legislature.
However, after making it out of the Texas House of Representatives, lawmakers in the Texas Senate didn’t take action on the bills.