Sep 10, 2007
Just six hours before he was to be killed, Kenneth Foster learned that Texas governor Rick Perry commuted his sentence to life in prison.
Foster hadn’t killed anyone, but he was convicted as an accomplice, since he drove his grandfather’s car on a ride with buddies, which degenerated and ended with two robberies and a killing. According to Texas law, an accomplice has to suffer the same penalty as the direct author of a crime.
Apparently, it was too much for even the blood-thirsty governor of Texas to kill a man who’d done nothing but drive a car. He has approved 163 other executions, 11 more than the previous record held by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Texas holds a revolting record, with 402 executions, or a third of the national total since the Supreme Court re-authorized the death penalty in 1976. In the year 2007, executions in Texas made up two thirds of the national total. But thirty other states still have the death penalty, in addition to the U.S. government.
There are more than 3,300 still awaiting execution on Death Row. Many hundreds more, originally sentenced to death, have subsequently been found to be innocent. A crushing majority come from poor neighborhoods, and a third of those to be killed are black.
The death penalty does not deter further violence – as every study shows. The U.S., one of only two industrialized countries with the death penalty, has an unbelievably higher rate of violent crime than all the other countries. The same is true within the United States: on average, states with the death penalty have a much higher rate of violence than states without it. The death penalty only adds to the violence, legitimizes it. Official executions demonstrate the barbarity of a society, every bit as much as do the crimes the death penalty pretends to combat.