RESOURCES: Death Sentences in Texas Are Fewer and More Geographically Isolated

A new report on the death penalty in Texas found that death sentences have declined by more than 75% since 2002, and more than half of all new death sentences were imposed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year, while no new death sentences were imposed in Harris County (Houston) for the third time in five years. The report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review by the Texas Coalition to Abolish Death Penalty, stated there were 9 new death sentences in 2012, near the record low since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. According to TCADP, racial patterns continue to persist in the use of the death penalty: “Seven of the new death row inmates in 2012 are African-American, one is Hispanic, and one is a white female. Over the last five years, nearly 75% of death sentences in Texas have been imposed on people of color – 46% African-American and 28% Hispanic.” Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service, remarked, “Although Texas is using the death penalty less, the state still uses it disproportionately on people of color. This is a recurring problem and Texas’ failure to fix it demonstrates how broken its capital punishment system is.”

(TCADP, “Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review,” and TCADP’s Press Release, Dec. 12, 2012). See DPIC’s 2012 Year End Report on national death penalty developments; see also Sentencing.