The Witness Reply

An interesting article about the death penalty in Texas.

By Pamela Colloff

Texas Monthly

Part I.

Ms. Lyons,
Hi, if you are reading this then they killed me. I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed talking to you, you seem like a really great lady. I’m sorry we didn’t meet under different circumstances. . . . Thank you for your kindness. Have a wonderful day.
—Letter from death row inmate Robert Coulson, June 25, 2002

Early one morning in April, Michelle Lyons pulled up outside her daughter’s elementary school in Huntsville, seventy miles north of Houston. Set deep in the Piney Woods, Huntsville—which is home to no fewer than five prisons—is a company town whose primary industry is confinement. Many parents who were dropping their children off at school that day worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Huntsville’s largest employer. Michelle, who sat behind the wheel of her blue Chevy sedan nursing a travel mug of coffee, had worked for TDCJ herself for more than a decade. She had been the public face of the agency, a disarmingly friendly, upbeat spokesperson for the biggest prison system in the nation. Though she had left the position two years earlier, she was still well-known around town, and several mothers waved as her car idled in the drop-off line. “Have a beautiful day,” she murmured when her nine-year-old leaned in to kiss her goodbye.

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The Trump Administration’s Death Penalty Daydream Reply

I suspect Trump and Sessions’ latest efforts to throw a bone to their redneck “base” will likely fail, and potentially backfire given that the general trend is toward liberalization of both drug and criminal  justice police.

By Matt Ford

The New Republic

In a speech Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire, President Donald Trump enthusiastically backed capital punishment as a tool to fight the opioid epidemic. “If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time,” he said. “And that toughness includes the death penalty.” Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to put Trump’s call into practice.

In one-page memo dated Tuesday, Sessions instructed U.S. attorneys nationwide to be more aggressive when prosecuting any drug-related crimes. In addition to the usual tools available to federal prosecutors, he urged them to consider “the pursuit of capital punishment in appropriate cases.” To that end, he noted a few specific federal offenses where Congress already authorized the death penalty as a punishment.

“I strongly encourage federal prosecutors to use these statutes, when appropriate, to aid in our continuing fight against drug trafficking and the destruction it causes,” Sessions wrote.

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