Throughout the past year, the liberal media
has thrown mud at George W. Bush
for being the executive leader
of the state of Texas
. In particular, they chastize Bush
as being a killer
, in regards to the number of executions carried out at the state level. Almost every single author of these articles I've read by these has either ignored or forgotten the following facts:
1. In 1972 in a 5-4 decision, Furman v. Georgia prohibited the execution of criminals under state auspices, claiming a violation of the "cruel and unusual" clause of the Eighth Amendment. However in 1976, three seperate cases, Gregg v. Georgia, Jurek v. Texas and Proffitt v. Florida upheld the constitutionality of the state's right to chose the death penalty as an option for offenders, provided "guided discretion" was used.
When Gregg v. Georgia was ruled, 63% of the people of Texas voted to reinstate Texas' pre-1972 policy of sentencing first degree murderers to death.
2. In 1935, 199 people were put to death for crimes. In 1999, the figured tolled 98. Although numbers have steadily increased since 1990, this is due to the rigorous checking system of the state which leaves the average inmate on death row for over ten years. When you consider that sentencing the death penalty became legal again only after 1976, this trend is to be expected.
3. According to the Texas state constitution, the Goveror has the following powers in regards to the death penalty:
Article 4, Section 11 reads: (a) The Legislature shall by law establish a Board of Pardons and Paroles and shall require it to keep record of its actions and the reasons for its actions. The Legislature shall have authority to enact parole laws and laws that require or permit courts to inform juries about the effect of good conduct time and eligibility for parole or mandatory supervision on the period of incarceration served by a defendant convicted of a criminal offense. (b) In all criminal cases, except treason and impeachment, the Governor shall have power, after conviction, on the written signed recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, or a majority thereof, to grant reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons; and under such rules as the Legislature may prescribe, and upon the written recommendation and advice of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, he shall have the power to remit fines and forfeitures. The Governor shall have the power to grant one reprieve in any capital case for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days; and he shall have power to revoke conditional pardons. With the advice and consent of the Legislature, he may grant reprieves, commutations of punishment and pardons in cases of treason.
Texas, like all other states, gives the judicial system
the power to sentence convicted criminals. Once convicted, the Texas legislature provides for the Board of Paroles
to oversee the sentencing and execution procedures. The Governor
is also required to personally ensure that the proceedings of the trials were in order, and that guilt has been proven.
Now, think about this: What if George W. Bush decided to pardon criminals on death row, in favor of a life sentence? He would be chased right out of Texas. Firstly, he would have to have the approval of the Board of Paroles, which obviously has already decreed the guilt of said offender. Unless Bush had mysteriously found a loophole or violation that hundreds of case reviewers had missed, he would be SOL. Secondly, George would be attempting to single handedly overturn the entire judicial process, and would be highly in contempt of the state of Texas. As a leader, he is required to uphold the rules provided by the state constitution and uphold the voice of the majority of the citizens of the state of Texas. Pardoning offenders based on a personal dislike of the death penalty would be showing complete disregard for the desires of majority of the people residing and voting in Texas.
Simply put, George W. Bush is next to powerless with regards to the method in which criminals in his state are punished. In addition, his only powers of repriveval and pardon are governed by a committee. It is complete lunacy to point a finger at Bush for the death penalty.