A broad spectrum of the public is seeking clemency for Texas death row inmate James Allridge, who is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, August 26th. Among those pointing to Allridge’s rehabilitation as the basis for mercy are four of the original jurors in his trial, two former death row prison guards, a retired prison system administrator, a Fort Worth city councilman, one of Allridge’s former employers, and murder victims’ family members. The supporters state that since Aldridge arrived on death row in 1987, his remorse for the murder of Brian Clendennen has led him to strive for redemption, and his behavior has become a model for others on death row.

Former death row guards pointed out that Allridge has made the unit a safer place and that he has used his intellectual skills to teach others in prison to read and write. Allridge has also become an accomplished painter whose art has been displayed throughout the nation and internationally.

Jurors in the case said that they were not presented with important mitigating evidence during his trial and that this information could have led to a sentencing recommendation of life in prison. The jurors say that defense attorneys failed to adequately present evidence about Allridge’s troubled relationship with his family, especially his naive desire to please an older brother who was a career criminal. This omission kept jurors from accurately evaluating Allridge’s future dangerousness, a determination that Texas uses as the primary basis for a recommendation of death.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has received over 120 requests for clemency in capital cases and has recommended clemency to the Governor on only few occasions. Of the three clemency recommendations sent this year to Governor Rick Perry, he has granted only one, and that was on the basis of the defendant’s mental retardation.

Critics of the Texas death penalty system state that it’s ironic that the state’s capital punishment system permits juries to recommend death based on a future dangerousness determination gleaned from “every bad thing you’ve ever done,” but fails to take into account the acts of redemption and rehabilitation during the clemency process. They point to the words of Charles Aycock, a former president of the State Bar Association and a member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, who has stated, “Clemency is not about a rigid legal standard - or even a legal standard capable of articulation. Rather, it is about mercy.” The Board of Pardons and Paroles will consider Allridge’s clemency request on Monday, August 23rd. (Austin Chronicle, August 20, 2004) (UPDATE: Allridge was executed by the state of Texas on August 26, 2004.) See Clemency.