Introduction

Over the years the death penalty in Texas has become a huge topic of discussion. People of all walks of life have taken interest in this subject because its life we are talking about. It's choosing to let someone live or kill them for the wrong they have done. It isn't about believing in the death penalty but believing that the state should not perform punishment with being legally and morally certain that the person being accused of the crime has actually committed the crime.
The only category of crime punishable by death in the United States is capital murder. "Capital murder is usually defined so as to include murders that are premeditated, or murders where the victim was completely blameless and was killed mainly because he or she got in the way of planned criminal activity, or was a witness to a crime."
After a person is convinced of capital murder, they are then put in a county jail until their trial date. When the trial date comes they will be tried in a district court. The trial proceeds with a normal criminal procedure where the jury decides if the convict is guilty or not guilty. The judge then gives the sentence of either life in prison or the death penalty according to the jury and the attorneys input. The state and defense attorneys are allowed to present arguments against the death penalty.
After being convicted of capital murder the defendant is moved from county custody to state custody. The people put on death row are kept separated from other prisoners. They have single man cells measuring 60 square feet, with a window in each cell.
Following the trial at eh district court, there are appeals. The direct appeals stage, is the first, is to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest criminal court in the state. The court of criminal appeals has nine judges who hear each case, and issue a verdict as a published opinion. Next stage of appeals is, the Habeas Corpus. Here the defendant bring up issues that weren't brought up in their trial. If the defendant loses their appeals, they are sent to jail until there executions.
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Execution Table

Executions in Texas are always scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. This allows the family and friends of the condemned prisoner to attend. Prisoners are transported to Huntsville the night before of the day of the execution. The tradition is that the prisoner is allowed to choose their last meal. After the meal the prisoner is then accompanied by the Chaplin in his final hours. At 6:00 p.m. sharp the prisoner is taken from the holding cell to the execution table. The prisoner is strapped to the table face up, and his arms extended on supports. When in place, the parties are allowed to enter. IV's are then inserted into both arms and the saline solution is started. After a few minutes, everyone leaves the chamber except the prisoner, the warden and the Chaplin. The prisoner is allowed to say one last statement. As soon as the statement is finished, the anonymous executioner in another room releases a lethal dose of pentobarbital by remote control. In about ten seconds the prisoner loses consciousness, it takes a few minutes for them to die. The state will turn the body over if someone claims it. Unclaimed bodies are buried at a inmate-maintained cemetery.
Before 1923, executions were done by counties by hanging. In 1923, all executions were now suppose to be done by the state, Texas, in Huntsville by electric chair. The electric chair was used until 1964. From 1964 to 1982 in the United States the executions were on a moratorium for capital punishment by judicial challenges. In 1977, the lethal injection was adopted by Texas. The lethal injection has a three-drug protocol developed by medical examiner Jay Chapman, and anesthesiologist Stanley Deutsch. The first is the Pentobarbital, which is the lethal dose that sedates the person. The second is the Pancuronium Bromide, which is a muscle relaxant that collapses the diaphragm and lungs. The last drug is the Potassium Chloride which stops the heart beat. From 1992 to 1999 the pace of executions increased because of the performance of the lethal injection. In 2000 the death penalty came under national scrutiny. Not only because, it was believed to be cruel and unusual punishment; but because there was belief that innocent people were being executed. Texas came under especially strong national scrutiny because it led the nation in executions. So, then the government began to look into DNA testing. In 2001, the legislature passed a law guaranteeing DNA testing to any condemned prisoner whose innocence might be secured as a result. At least 139 individuals have been released from death row after establishing their innocence. Since 2005, there has been a decline in death row population. Texas has changed the law, to where capital murderers are now being sentenced to life in prison instead of the death penalty and would be ineligible for parole. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, from an opinion dissenting from the Supreme Court's decision denying review in a Texas death penalty case, Callins v. Collins, Feb. 22, 1994. Blackmun stated that, "We hope...that the defendant whose life is at risk will be represented by...someone who is inspired by the awareness that a less-than-vigorous defense...could have fatal consequences for the defendant. We hope that the attorney will investigate all aspects of the case, follow all evidentiary and procedural rules, and appear before a judge...committed to the protection of defendants' rights..." Like Blackmun, many believe that defendant should go through a thorough evaluation before being put on death row. It is a life of a human being discussed about. Make sure that the defendant is the person who committed the crime before you kill him. There is no point to realize he was innocent after he has already been killed.
People all over the country are trying to make the death penalty laws better, so that innocent people are not killed. In Texas the population of death row has decreased. The state of Texas is doing its best by looking deeper into capital punishment cases and convicting the correct person. They are continuing to perform DNA tests, to eliminate punishing the innocent.


Works Cited:

. "IS THE DEATH PENALTY UNJUST?." . 10,03,1995. Web. 13 Dec 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/angel/procon/deathissue.html>.
"Background." Texas Execution Information Center. Web. 5 Dec 2011. http://www.txexecutions.org/primer.asp.
Phillip , David J. . "Capital Punishment." New York Time . N.p., 04, 15, 2011. Web. 13 Dec 2011. <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/capital_punishment/index.html>.