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Prisoner Education Guide

Houston - Death Penalty Capital of USA

In one week this September, six separate capital murder cases were being tried in Harris County, Texas, of which Houston is the main city. Some legal observers consider this to be a national record.

"They may have done this in the Old West, but there's been nothing like this in modern times," said a law professor at the University of Houston. The six capital murder cases being tried in one week in Houston are more than any other Texas county tries in one year. Dallas County, which encompasses Dallas-Fort Worth, has only tried one capital murder case so far in 1994. In Harris County the number will be 22 or 23.

District attorney, John B. Holmes, Jr., who has been referred to as the "killingest man" in America, vows to continue his killing ways. "I am not about to alter my rigid views on capital justice, and if the public doesn't like it, they know what they can do about it."

As of September, 1994, there have been a total of 251 state sponsored murders [executions] in the U.S. since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Since then the State of Texas has murdered 80 of its citizens. That's 32% of all US executions since 1976! (Texas didn't resume executions until 1982) Of the 80 put to death in Texas, Harris county proudly claims 33. Serial killer John Wayne Gacey, also of Houston, took the lives of 33 young men and boys, which means that District Attorney Holmes should soon eclipse him as Texas' all-time mass murderer! Currently there are 394 people on death row in Texas, 111 were tried in Houston.

These figures clearly make Texas the leading state murderer in the US, and Houston [Harris County] has the distinction of leading any other county in Texas. If you are put to death by the Government in this country, there is a better than one-in-ten chance that your case was tried in Houston, Texas!

The practice will probably continue, or even acceleratein the years to come. Former Texas Governor, Ann Richards (D), never issued a death-row pardon. The new Governor, George W. Bush, son of the former President, is a staunch supporter of the death penalty. Both candidates called for "speeding up" the appeals process in death penalty cases, presumably so the state can murder its citizens faster and with less "interference" from federal courts.

 

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