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Texas: The Death Factory (Death Penalty)

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by TEARZ, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. TEARZ

    TEARZ Guest

    one of my best friends has been working on the following case. i'm pulling hard for a stall of execution.

    From the Chicago Tribune:
    Texas defies drift against executions


    Death chamber runs at record clip

    By Steve Mills
    Tribune staff reporter

    February 23, 2003

    LIVINGSTON, Texas -- Illinois has emptied its Death Row. Much of the
    rest of the nation is rethinking its use of the death penalty. Yet here
    in the state with the country's busiest death chamber, executions are
    proceeding at a record pace.

    Eight of the nation's first 10 executions in 2003--including six in
    January--were carried out in the Huntsville prison unit commonly called
    The Walls. Nearly half of the next two dozen scheduled executions also
    will be in Texas.

    By the end of March, Texas should record its 300th execution--more than
    one-third of all those in the country since the mid-1970s, when the
    death penalty was reinstated in the United States after a brief Supreme
    Court-imposed hiatus.

    Delma Banks Jr. has been on Texas' Death Row so long that he has seen
    every one of the men and women there taken to their executions.

    Now, if Banks' final appeals fail to win him a reprieve, he will be put
    to death March 12, although the case against him is marked by many of
    the issues that have fueled criticism of Texas' assembly-line approach
    to the capital punishment.

    Banks is on Death Row for the murder of 16-year-old Richard Whitehead,
    who was shot to death in 1980 at a park in a suburb of Texarkana in
    eastern Texas. Banks has maintained his innocence.

    Banks, who is black, was 21 when he was tried and convicted by an
    all-white jury in a county where, according to one study, few blacks
    served on juries when Banks' case went to court later in 1980.
    Prosecutors at the trial struck four black prospective jurors.

    The defense lawyer at his trial, a former district attorney named Lynn
    Cooksey, performed woefully. Cooksey repeatedly told the judge that he
    barely had prepared for the trial and that he did not have information
    that prosecutors were supposed to turn over to him, such as witnesses'
    criminal records.

    Once Banks had been found guilty, Cooksey did little for the sentencing
    hearing, when Banks' life was on the line, according to court records.
    The lawyer did not prepare his witnesses and asked only perfunctory
    questions. Evidence of Banks' severe abuse by an alcoholic father, a
    potentially mitigating factor, was ignored.

    According to a federal judge, prosecutors withheld evidence that a key
    witness was working as a paid police informant. That witness and
    another--the two key witnesses against Banks--have since said in
    affidavits or court testimony that police officers coerced them to
    testify falsely against Banks.

    Lawyer `didn't do nothing'

    The errors and alleged misconduct in the case were enough for a U.S.
    District Court judge to order a new sentencing hearing and give Banks a
    chance to gain a lesser sentence while also fighting his conviction.

    But the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the
    most conservative courts in the nation, reversed the judge. While the
    court acknowledged that Banks' case was marked by errors, it reset
    on a course for execution.

    "At the time I thought Lynn Cooksey was doing a job," Banks, 44, said
    during an interview on Death Row. "But I didn't know what a lawyer was
    supposed to do. I came down here and started studying my case. I found
    he didn't do nothing."

    Cooksey could not be reached for comment.

    Banks' chief attorney, George Kendall of the NAACP Legal Defense and
    Education Fund in New York, said: "When you serve up stuff like this,
    you needn't be a rocket scientist to figure it all out. The courts are
    bending over backward to ignore real errors that occur in these cases."

    James Elliott, who helped prosecute Banks and still is an assistant
    district attorney in Texarkana, downplayed the problems with the case
    and said Banks has been stalling to avoid execution.

    "I think the [federal] district court looked back in time and based
    their opinion on standards that have evolved rather than the standards
    in place at the time," Elliott said. "When it comes right down to it,
    Delma Banks killed this kid."

    Banks is big, with a soft, almost pillowy face. He speaks slowly, as if
    he is going to fall asleep. He smiles easily, in spite of the looming
    execution date, and says he turned to the Bible to find peace of mind.

    He vigorously denied in the interview that he killed Whitehead.

    His recollection of the teen was vague. He knew they had worked
    together in a restaurant, maybe a Bonanza steakhouse, though he said
    that was all he could remember.

    Others memories also have faded, in part because Banks has been on
    Death Row so long--more than double the 10 1/2-year average stay on
    Texas' Death Row, according to the state Department of Criminal

    Banks knows, for instance, that he has four grandchildren. But he said
    he cannot always remember their names.

    "They told me," he said, "and I've got them written down."

    In many ways, Banks' case is emblematic of the death penalty in Texas,
    where cases move deliberately toward execution in spite of issues that
    raise questions about the guilt of the inmate or the fairness of the
    trial or appeal.

    A record of problems

    A Tribune investigation of the death penalty in Texas in June 2000
    found that the system repeatedly was compromised by the use of
    unreliable evidence, incompetent defense attorneys and an appeals
    that often fails to remedy injustices.

    This year--as Texas moves toward possibly breaking its record of 40
    executions in a year, set in 2000--the cases involving those put to
    death by the state have raised troubling issues.

    One man's state appeal was presided over by a judge who had been a
    prosecutor and done research for prosecutors at the man's original
    trial, according to defense attorneys.

    Another prisoner had no federal review of his case because his lawyer
    filed his appeal five days after a key deadline. Consequently, the
    prisoner forfeited that critical stage of review, although the mistake
    was his attorney's, not his.

    Another inmate was executed even though the jurors who convicted him
    later signed a statement in which they requested that he be allowed DNA
    testing before his execution.

    Other inmates claimed that their attorneys were incompetent or
    inexperienced or that the inmates suffered from brain damage--issues
    that might have been grounds for relief from an appeals court.

    All those cases played out in a death penalty environment that has
    changed dramatically over the past three years. In Illinois, by far the
    most dramatic example of a changing landscape, Gov. George Ryan imposed
    a moratorium on executions in 2000 and then, in January as he was about
    to leave office, emptied Death Row by commuting the sentences of more
    than 160 inmates.

    Other states also have ordered studies of their death penalty system.
    Meantime, legislators and judges across the country have said they are
    having second thoughts about capital punishment.

    "The problems with attorney incompetence, unreliable expert testimony,
    racial disparities--all those issues exist in Texas as well," said
    Andrea Keilen of the Texas Defender Service, a non-profit organization
    that defends Death Row inmates and finds them lawyers.

    Reform efforts stall

    Texas has flirted with reform, to no avail. Two years ago, legislators
    proposed a handful of bills that would offer Death Row inmates more
    protection before being executed, but the measures failed. In Texas,
    even liberal legislators support the death penalty with a certain

    Reform is on the agenda again this term, with measures to abolish or
    temporarily halt executions as well as bills that would strengthen the
    appeals process, set up a commission to study the death penalty system
    and give juries the choice of sentencing defendants to life without

    And in recent days, there have been some surprising calls for a
    moratorium--though one seems unlikely. The League of Women Voters
    for a temporary halt to executions, while the Houston Chronicle said a
    moratorium would be "prudent."

    "Executions have to be done sparingly, judiciously," said state Rep.
    Pete Gallego, a Democrat from West Texas and author of a bill to
    the state habeas corpus appeal--legislation he helped craft in 1993.

    "If an attorney makes an error, it shouldn't be held against the
    inmate," said Gallego, a former prosecutor. "And if you have a claim of
    innocence, I don't care about deadlines.

    "I think every Texan, whether they're Republican or Democrat, is
    interested in justice," he added.

    As Texas continues to use the death penalty with frequency, it is
    becoming increasingly isolated. Among the 38 states where the death
    penalty is legal, no state executes inmates as often as Texas does.

    "Other states are taking a more cautious approach," Keilen said, "as
    opposed to the torrid pace in Texas. We should at least study this."

    Banks has seen close to 300 men and women taken off to the death
    chamber at the high-walled prison at Huntsville. He thinks often of
    those inmates--some of them his friends--but he tries not to think of
    his own execution.

    "It's not easy," Banks said, his voice growing soft, "talking to
    somebody one night and then the next day they don't exist anymore."
  2. TEARZ

    TEARZ Guest

    killing us softly...
  3. GLIK$

    GLIK$ Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Jul 23, 2002 Messages: 22,277 Likes Received: 117
    silence is the strongest rebelion.
  4. TEARZ

    TEARZ Guest

    that sounds catchy as a hardcore shibboleth, but it's bullshit.
  5. wiseguy

    wiseguy Elite Member

    Joined: Mar 1, 2002 Messages: 2,543 Likes Received: 1
    australia doesnt have the death penalty.
  6. GLIK$

    GLIK$ Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Jul 23, 2002 Messages: 22,277 Likes Received: 117
  7. krie

    krie Guest

    death penalty shouldnt be used..
  8. BROWNer

    BROWNer Guest

    i promise i'll read this in the morning. and comment if
    needed. peaceballsz homesnaldsz.
  9. xKillmodEx

    xKillmodEx Guest

    --I Will Burn You Down And Not Feel Bad About It--
  10. KaBar

    KaBar Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 9, 2001 Messages: 1,397 Likes Received: 28
    Bottom line---this guy murdered a 16-year old boy for absolutely no good reason. What about Richard Whitehead's appeal? Where is his chance for a re-trial? What opportunity did he have to see justice done? It is as if the liberals just forget all about you if some fucking monster kills you. Delma Banks murdered Richard Whitehead. He got convicted and sentenced. He appealed his sentence. Adios, bad person.

    Note to murderers: Stay out of Texas unless you want to be executed by some hard-hearted Department of Criminal Justice corrections officers. You will get a trial by a jury of your peers. If you get convicted, and sentenced to death, once your attorneys have run out of ideas to try and get your sentence overturned, you will get the needle. They will bury you in a prison cemetary under your prison number and very few people will miss you.

    Instead, why don't you choose to live a productive life, live peacefully and not make choices likely to lead to the death of other people? Your choice, your life, your own responsibility to do right. Don't snivel if you choose badly and get punished for it.

    No bad ass on earth is as bad ass as the State of Texas.
  11. !@#$%

    [email protected]#$% Moderator Crew

    Joined: Oct 1, 2002 Messages: 18,517 Likes Received: 623
    Note to Americans: stay out of the united states if you expect your rights to be respected by law enforcement, or if you expect to be treated fairly in the justice system, whether as a victim ort a perpetrator

    Note to all innocent people: don't expect that just because you did not commit a crime that you won't be sent to death row and executed.the united states has no problem executing innocent people

    so many self-righteous right wing conservatives, so little time

    it is a crock of shit to claim that murder justifies murder...no execution brings a victim back

    and bullshit to think that every person who is executed is guilty

    what will it take for people to learn that?
    i suppose only the experience of being wrongly accuse and murdered...

    when will people learn that capital punishment is not a detterent, and not always a comfort to victim's families

    no bad ass on earth has a hemmorhoid as big as texas
  12. xKillmodEx

    xKillmodEx Guest

  13. Fox Mulder

    Fox Mulder 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Nov 23, 2000 Messages: 12,434 Likes Received: 86
    the only reason i don't think we should have the death penalty is because, our justice system is not perfect. innocent people are sent to prison. i'm not saying we shouldn't imprison people, but if you kill someone and find out they are innocent you can't bring them back. killing a murderer isn't going to bring back the dead. it's not justice, it's just revenge.
  14. xKillmodEx

    xKillmodEx Guest

  15. TEARZ

    TEARZ Guest

    haha, you rock. :thumbup: