As Texas Governor Rick Perry shamelessly insists on plowing ahead with the October 27th execution of Reggie Blanton (for a good article on the Blanton case go HERE), former Texas Governor Mark White is urging for a review of the death penalty in Texas following the recent hullabaloo surrounding Perry’s actions relating to the 2004 execution of Todd Willingham. A Houston Chronicle article today quoted the former Governor as saying he believes the “system is so unreliable it creates an unnecessary possibility that an innocent person would be executed in Texas.” Well, kudos to Governor White, but he only got it partially correct. The system he refers to is so unreliable that it not only creates the possibility that an innocent person would be executed in Texas, it in fact permitted a person not wrongly “proven” guilty to be executed in Texas. His name was Todd Willingham. While Perry appallingly refuses to come to terms with (or even speak somewhat honestly about) Willingham’s execution, Governor White (who presided over the execution of twenty individuals during his time in office) has some more intelligent things to say, e.g.
There is a very strong case to be made for a review of our death penalty statutes and even look at the possibility of having life without parole so we don’t look up one day and determined that we as the state of Texas have executed someone who is in fact innocent
So even though Governor White avoided any actual criticism of Perry or his handling of the Willingham case, he is actually suggesting that Texas realistically consider replacing the death penalty with life without parole. I don’t know about you, but when a former governor of the state of Texas starts talking about death penalty abolition, you have to feel a little encouraged, especially when we’ve grown so accustomed to the stubborn “stay the course” mentality of Texas’ long line of of law-and-order-at-all-costs Governors.