In Texas, Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness recently noted that the time-consuming and costly nature of capital punishment may lead to its demise. “I think this is the beginning of the end of the death penalty,” said Maness after a Criminal District Court Judge recommended that the Court of Criminal Appeals commute the death sentence of Walter Bell to life in prison. On three occassions, Jefferson County spent countless hours of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute Bell, who is mentally retarded, a diagnosis that makes him ineligible for the death penalty according the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia. Maness added that if Texas juries had the option to sentence those convicted of murder to life in prison without the possibility of parole and the state were to abolish capital punishment, protest from the state’s prosecutors would be little more than a grumble. “It’s so difficult. It gets more difficult all of the time,” said Maness of the time-consuming and stressful work associated with seeking death sentences. Texas is one of two states that has the death penalty and does not offer the alternative sentence of life without parole. (The Beaumont Enterprise, July 24, 2004) See New Voices. See also, Life Without Parole.