The public and moral consequences of capital punishment will be the subject of a one-day conference entitledJourney To Mercy – Rethinking The Death Penalty In Texasbeing jointly hosted by the Texas Catholic Conference on Friday, October 23, in the Texas Capitol in Austin.
The conference is an opportunity to re-examine the state’s system of capital punishment amid increasing public concerns about the application and morality of the death penalty. The concern is motivated by a number of recent high-profile cases of death row inmates being exonerated of the crimes of which they were accused and a number of legal and academic studies have raised concern about the fairness of the process.
The conference is co-hosted by the Office of Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr; the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; the Catholic Mobilizing Network; and the Texas Mercy Project (an initiative of the Texas Catholic Conference). It is scheduled to be held at 9 a.m. in the Texas Capitol Auditorium. The conference will feature panel discussions by state legislators, public policy leaders, clergy, and victims advocates on the aspects and consequences of capital punishment in Texas.
On Saturday, October 24, advocates will host a march and rallyStanding Against The Death Penalty – Walk for Life, Hope, Mercystarting at 9 a.m. at St. Austin Catholic Church, 2026 Guadalupe Street, that will culminate at a rally on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol. People from across the state are expected to participate in the rally to demonstrate to policymakers their support for reforming the use and implementation of capital punishment.
“When the Church talks about the death penalty we find that, regardless of political perspective, all Texans share a common interest in securing justice for victims of crimes and for those accused of committing crimes,” said Dr. Jeff Patterson, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference.
“What Texans do not want is someone being put to death for a crime they did not commit, nor a justice system that does not treat everyone equally under the law,” Patterson said. “The conference seeks to bring both death penalty opponents and proponents together to forge consensus-based policy recommendations that achieve these common objectives.”
There have been a number of signs indicating Texans question how the death penalty system works in Texas. A 2012 Texas Politics Project poll found that while 73 percent of Texans support the death penalty in concept, barely half thought the death penalty was fairly administered in the state. In addition, support for capital punishment drops to 53 percent when presented the alternative of life in prison without parole (37 percent prefer).
What this suggests is that while Texans may support the idea of a death penalty, an increasing number of people are not sure sure the death penalty works. That could be a large part of the reason why so far in 2015, not one death sentence has been handed down by juries in Texas’ 254 counties.
To learn more about the conference and the march—and to RSVP to participate–go to the conference websitehttp://bit.ly/1McTsbc. The site will be updated frequently with more details.