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PostThe Death Penalty in Texas (Randy Black) (John Eipper, USA, 11/27/05 5:58 am)
Randy Black writes: Regarding Robeert Whealey s comment about ordering an execution or grating a pardon (Nov. 26), the governor of the State of Texas does not/cannot order an execution. Anyone who believes otherwise is simply not up to date on the matter of Texas law.
The process works as follows: The Governor of the State of Texas has a limited power to grant clemency to the prisoner. In capital cases, the Governor has the constitutional authority to grant an offender one 30-day reprieve of a scheduled execution without a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Upon recommendation from the Board, the Governor may grant one or more reprieves in a capital case for any period of time that does not exceed the period recommended by the Board members. If the prisoner submits a timely request for a reprieve of execution, the Board must determine, by majority vote, whether to recommend to the Governor that a reprieve be granted. Similarly, if a death row inmate files a timely petition to the Board from for a commutation of sentence to a lesser punishment, such as life imprisonment, the Board will vote on whether to recommend the commutation to the Governor.
The only factors that matter according to the chairman of the board of Pardons and Paroles, and Governor Bush were two issues:
1. Actual innocence, and 2. Whether the citizen had access to the courts. Karla FayeTucker was guilty of using a pick ax to murder two innocent people during the commission of another crime (theft of a motorcycle) and she had access to the courts to the tune of millions of taxpayer dollars expended for her defense. Commutation of the death penalty in Texas to life in prison since 1972: 72. Bush did a few of those.
Regarding Karla Fay Tucker, before her execution, Ms. Tucker wrote a letter to Gov. Bush asking that her sentence be commuted to life in prison so that she could continue her Christian ministry a ministry that did not exist until she got pretty close the her execution date. By the way, life without parole was not on the books during her lifetime thus commuting her death sentence would have left open the probability of her eventually being released. Her personal testimony shows that she smoked pot by age 8, shot heroin by age 13, was a prostitute by age 14, was a sex groupie to the Allman Brothers band when she was too young, legally, to be doing such activity. During her trial, tapes that were recorded by Garrett's (her accomplice) brother on which she claimed that she had multiple orgasms during the killings. Her execution took place Feb. 3, 1998 (not in 2000).
The argument in favor of clemency for Karla Faye Tucker went like this: Yes, she's guilty of a horrible crime she killed two helpless people with a pickax but she seems genuinely remorseful for her crime; she seems to have undergone a genuine, life-changing religious conversion. Rubbish.
On television screens across America, people saw Karla Faye Tucker's beautiful face as she talked about reading the Bible in her prison cell (she admitted to stealing the Bible, not realizing it was free for the asking) and discovering Jesus, who "changed my life."
Finally, Governor Bush commuted several death sentences during his time in office in Texas. The media doesn t tell you much about those cases, only the ones who were put to death.
RH: The sordid story of Karla Faye Tucker exemplifies the need to provide protection and guidance to children. The real responsibility for the tragedy lies with her parents.