Death and Texas
Beyond red Walls
On the Witness Stand
Lens on Life and Death
Death and Texas
For the condemned, it means the end, for their immediate family it is the beginning of a never-ending ordeal: the death penalty. The United States is the only western democracy where the capital punishment is still enforced.
As much of the rest of the world looks on in horror, the US is hard pressed to justify its archaic policy stance. And lately, some botched executions have only added to the criticism. On April 29 of this year, the convicted murderer Clayton Lockett died after a 43-minute-long agony when he was given untested drugs at his execution.
President Barack Obama called Lockett’s misbegotten execution «deeply troubling» and pledged to consult with Attorney General Eric Holder about the problems with the death penalty. Clearly, as a country, America needs to confront some difficult realities connected to this issue.
Nevertheless, the president considers the death penalty justified in some circumstances, as he said at a press conference after the Lockett debacle. Abolition is not yet foreseeable, especially in Texas, which leads all other states in the dubious practice of execution.
Since 1982, 515 people have been executed by lethal injection in the city of Huntsville, Texas. They all had been convicted of murder, some after rather questionable trials. Each execution is a grim landmark, not only for the perpetrators, but also for their families and the families of the victims.
But for others, execution is a profession.
Whether for the prison warden, or the condemned convict’s siblings, or the victim’s parents or children, when the execution is over, their life goes on. The NZZ tells the stories of four people who were present at an execution — and two who were spared from having to attend an execution.
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