Mar 17, 2003
On March 12, one innocent man was rescued, at least for now, from the Texas murder machine.
Just 10 minutes from execution, Mr. Delma Banks Jr. was granted a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court. He was to be the 11th person executed by Texas this year, and the 300th execution since Texas reintroduced the death penalty.
In fact, Bank's case was not unusual. He was a black man who was sentenced by an all-white jury on the strength of testimony by a paid police informant and by a man awaiting an arson trial. The arson case was dropped after Bank's conviction. Both witnesses have signed statements that they lied in court and why they lied.
Banks' trial attorney did not visit the crime scene, did not get pre-trial prosecution information, and did not challenge the exclusion of black jurors. He also did not call witnesses who knew that Banks was 180 miles away at the time of murder!
Nevertheless, Banks was convicted, sentenced to death, and spent 22 years in jail while losing appeal after appeal through the Texas court system. The Texas appeals courts are so stacked that even one of the newspapers in the state capital, the Austin American-Statesman, editorialized that the Court of Criminal Appeals is so incompetent that it should be abolished.
Banks' type of frame-up is a common police procedure. Banks is unusual only because his supporters found a way to involve very high personalities. Signing the brief for Banks' Supreme Court appeal were not only a former head of the FBI, William Sessions, but also a former Chicago U.S. Attorney and two former Circuit Court of Appeals judges, one of whom was appointed by President Nixon. None of these men can be accused of being bleeding-heart liberals or soft on crime! But the facts were too clear. Banks was denied a fair trial to satisfy Texas justice's thirst for blood.
Today, led by George and Jeb Bush and their cronies, the framers of public policy are taking us backward in time, to the days of barbarism. Clan vengeance and blood retribution disappeared from civilized societies long ago. Today, not one single civilized industrial society accepts the death penalty, not one – except the U.S. The only nations which do practice capital punishment are out and out dictatorships, military dictatorships – except the U.S.
Delma Banks and his fellow Death Row inmates are also mirrors of government policy towards Afghanistan and Iraq. "We don't care who we kill, but we are going to kill someone!" That's the Bush battle cry. And he goes unchecked. All of the supposed "good people" in government have nothing to say about this Administration as it replaces civilization with barbarity, at home and around the world.