Death penalty

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.

John Allen Rubio sits on Death Row in Texas. He was convicted of the 2003 murder of three children that were in his care. Rubio with his common law wife Angela Camacho say they believed the children were possessed by the devil. Prosecutors say Rubio committed the murders because they were homeless and so poor he didn’t want to take care of them any longer. The murder shocked the border community of Brownsville at the time and it’s a news story that’s still remembered. But former Brownsville Herald reporter Laura Tillman wanted to go deeper in the telling of this crime.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas has executed roughly 30 death row inmates in Huntsville that had been diagnosed with severe mental illness, that’s according to a study provided by the group the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  

The group’s executive director, Kristin Houle, said that is primarily because the Texas judicial system has not created a categorical exemption for inmates with mental disorders like paranoid schizophrenia.

From Texas Standard:

So far this year, the State of Texas has executed three death row inmates. Ten more are scheduled to die before the end of July. At each execution are the prison warden, representatives from the press and families of prisoners and their victims. There's also a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and concerns both the innocent and the guilty," Pope Francis said Sunday, urging that the death penalty be abolished.