Death penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in the case of Duane Buck, a convicted Texas murderer who was sentenced to die after an expert witness testified that Buck was more likely to commit violent crimes in the future because he is black.

Across the country, the death penalty is on the decline.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have abolished it, and four others have issued a moratorium on executions. Last year, 50 people were sentenced to death, less than half the number six years ago. But the majority of those sentences were handed down in just 16 counties, out of 3,000 counties in the United States.

From Texas Standard:

Much has been said of Texas' top rank when it comes to the administration of the death penalty. Notwithstanding the state's record, the state still reserves the ultimate punishment for what most of us would consider the worst of the worst crimes. One man set to die this month in Texas killed a correctional officer while he was behind bars for murder. Another was the trigger man in a murder-for-hire.

But the third man actually didn't kill anyone. Jeff Wood pulled no trigger and had not even planned to commit a crime that morning – and yet, he's scheduled to die later this month.


Photo by Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle

An attorney for former Texas death row inmate Alfred Dewayne Brown is asking state Comptroller Glenn Hegar to reconsider denying his client almost $2 million in compensation from a state fund that compensates the wrongly imprisoned. Otherwise, he said, the next appeal might be before the Texas Supreme Court.

Last weekend Moreese Bickham was laid to rest. He was 98 and was known as the oldest survivor of Death Row. Bickham was buried in his hometown in Mississippi with military honors, he was a World War II navy veteran.

Bickham was sentenced to capital punishment in 1958 after admitting to shooting and killing two law officers in a situation that could be considered self-defense. Bickham said he saw the racism of the death penalty firsthand when at his trial the judge insisted that only white males would sit in the jury.