Chalk up another win for the Republican debate audiences who cheered Rick Perry's record 234 executions as Governor of Texas, as well as his peaceful mind that's not troubled one bit by the likelihood that some of them were innocent of the crimes for which they were killed, or that the process involved in convicting them all might have been even slightly flawed.
Tonight, Rick aims for number 236 with the scheduled execution of Duane Buck. Buck's case has become highly controversial due to the “expert” testimony used to place him on death row. Basically, the state psychologist testified that and African-Americans pose more of a threat than other racial or ethnic groups. Buck's attorney is arguing that he received unfair and prejudicial treatment due to his race.
From a must-read article in The Nation, “Will the Next Man Rick Perry Executes Die Because He's Black?”:
Buck was one of seven prisoners on Texas death row whose cases were addressed in 2000 by then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. Now a US Senator, Cornyn announced that he would not contest the appeals of Buck and six other prisoners-even though their guilt was not in doubt-because race had been used as a factor to determine their criminality. The same psychologist, Walter Quijano, had testified during the sentencing phase of all the trials, repeatedly saying that the fact that they were African-American or Hispanic increased the likelihood of them being dangerous in the future. In a capital punishment case, this tends to prompt jurors to choose a death sentence over life in prison. By acknowledging the testimony was “inappropriate,” Cornyn said his goal was “to assure the people of Texas that our criminal justice system is fairly administered.”
All but one of these men have since had their cases re-examined. For procedural reasons, Buck's case fell through the cracks. Convicted of a 1995 double murder, by the time his appeal reached federal court, a new state attorney general refused to allow his death sentence to be reviewed.
While there is no doubt about Buck's guilt, the fact that race was used to determine that he would receive the death penalty rather than life in prison raises serious questions about the process by which Perry's administration has racked up their unprecedented execution record.
Even the Harris County prosecutor, Linda Geffin, who helped convict Buck, is now advocating for a reprieve. In a letter to Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, she wrote, “No individual should be executed without being afforded a fair trial, untainted by considerations of race.”
Buck's surviving victim is also calling for the execution to be stopped.
But let's be really real here for a second, can we? Rick Perry's frothing base cheers the thought of executing people. The man's trying to win a GOP primary. Over the summer, he executed a Mexican national who had been denied the expected due-process in cases involving foreign citizens.
So the odds of Rick Perry deciding that we shouldn't execute people merely because of the color of their skin — let alone for any other reason like scientific evidence, or a faulty witness ID process — seems about as likely as a foot of snow falling on Texas tonight.
The cavalier attitude towards taking lives, the lack of consideration or critical thinking — it's all so very sick and sad.
In case you missed it, here's the GOP crowd cheering executions and Rick Perry defending Texas' “thoughtful, clear process in place” by which he commits state-sanctioned murder.