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Guest TEARZ

Texas: The Death Factory (Death Penalty)

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Guest TEARZ

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

Banks

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

Justice.

 

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

system

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

gusto.

 

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

parole.

 

And in recent days, there have been some surprising calls for a

moratorium--though one seems unlikely. The League of Women Voters

called

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

improve

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."

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Guest TEARZ

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

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Guest BROWNer

i promise i'll read this in the morning. and comment if

needed. peaceballsz homesnaldsz.

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Guest xKillmodEx

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

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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.

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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

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Originally posted by KaBar

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.

 

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.

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Guest TEARZ
Originally posted by !@#$%

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

 

haha, you rock. :thumbup:

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Guest TEARZ
Originally posted by KaBar

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.

 

kabar, sorry i insulted your beloved texas. interesting to see you right winging it. the fact is, texas is the new mississippi with the way that state kills and disenfrachises black people. john william king (he's still alive right? and a minority on texas' death row as a white dude) did his thing oh about 100 miles from houston, right? blacks and latinos make up over 65% of texas death row inmates out of 448 people. since you're from texas i'm sure you know about tulia. where the overwhelming majority of the town's population was imprisoned on bullshit drug charges by a crooked cop with no evidence, and those juries had no problem agreeing with him. so it's hard for me to believe that an all-white jury in texas, in 1980, is gonna give a black man a fair trial for killing a white kid, even without the witnesses who have come forth and said that they lied and a lawyer who didn't prepare for the case.

 

see, to some extent i understand where you are coming from. i have had family taken from me through senseless murder, gunshots, in fact.

 

but if you think death for delma banks will mean justice you are severely wrong. if you are really for justice, then give the dude a fair trial, and if they find him guilty, then fry him up, be my guest. but the courts cannot ignore huge errors that have occurred in cases like this, let alone execute upon them.

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Originally posted by KaBar

No bad ass on earth is as bad ass as the State of Texas.

 

any starving, desperate man would be close competition.

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Guest TEARZ

great article

 

check this

 

i'll highlight a few things from this article:

 

If you don't believe there are innocent people on our death rows, you need to talk to Rob Warden.

 

He's the former investigative journalist with a name that goes with the criminal-justice system, only he doesn't lock people up. He sets them free. He's the guy behind the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern School of Law in Chicago.

 

Warden estimates the judicial system's error rate on death row in his home state of Illinois at 5.6 percent. That's a scary margin of error for something so absolute as the death penalty. Worse even than a Florida exit poll.

 

That figure means that for every 20 folks on death row, there's one person who's innocent and has his or her case reversed.

 

"And that's in Illinois, which has the best public-defender system in the country," Warden told me last week before a speaking engagement at St. Mary's College in Moraga. Warden says that if comparable pro bono efforts were made in states such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas, error rates there would be revealed to be higher than they appear.

 

kabar since you are so sure of banks' guilt:

 

The Delma Banks case appears to be a classic example [of police bribing witnesses]. An Austin American Statesman report said no physical evidence had been collected against Banks. What convicted him were the statements of two witnesses. Investigators tracked them down later, however, and both witnesses recanted their testimony. One witness in California, Robert Farr, signed an affidavit claiming police paid him to lie during the trial.

 

Farr has since died of cancer.

 

Banks may die at the hands of the state this week.

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No system invented by and operated by human beings is 100% perfect. Without question, there probably are at least some people who are innocent who go to prison, and I concede that there might be an innocent person or two who actually makes it to death row.

 

In the entire U.S., we have executed about 550 people since 1976, according to the death penalty figures I read just now on the internet. Most of these sorry murderers are guilty as sin. But there might be a condemned person here or there that was unfairly or wrongfully convicted. Since it take 12 or 14 years, on the average, to execute someone in today's climate of hand-wringing, one would think that these guys would somehow successfully prove their innocence before the axe falls.

 

During this same period of time, the U.S. suffered approximately 450,000 murder VICTIMS. And approximately 7,920,000 Americans died from cigarette smoking.

 

People die from all kinds of shit. You want to save some truly innocent people from death? Convince teenagers to quit smoking cigarettes.

 

I wrote a long post about the murder of my ex-wife, but I deleted it. It was boring and self-serving. You guys don't know about it, and would have a hard time feeling sympathy towards her, or her family. The guy that murdered her will do his time, and get out. If society is lucky, he won't do it again. But honestly, I think he's committed multiple rapes and he may have murdered before he killed my ex-wife. He just wasn't caught. Someday, he'll be released, if he hasn't already been released. And he'll be back on the streets of your town----hunting. I am armed 24/7, so I have less concern about it. But I suspect those of you who are not armed might make good targets for him. Women. Girls. And even boys.

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Every State makes it's own laws

 

And rightly so. There are 38 states that use the death penalty, Texas is by far not the only one. The difference here is that Texas juries are more willing than juries in other states to hand out the death penalty.

For a murder to be capital murder in Texas it has to be heinous. Committed against a child or a peace officer (firefighters and EMT/ambulance crews are "peace officers" under the laws of Texas.) It must be aggravated--murder committed during the commission of another felony, murder committed after laying-in-wait or from ambush. These types of killings are not just your average, everyday convenience-store shootings. Capital murder is murder of the most aggrievious nature. Dismemberments. Torture. Murder of children. Killings that no civilized society can tolerate or risk a repetition. One thing is certain--executed murderers do not do it again.

 

Farther up the stack, someone said executions aren't justice, merely revenge. I was sort of perplexed. What's wrong with revenge against someone who has committed murder? The State reserves that power to itself to prevent feuds of vengance, but that doesn't mean than "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" is wrong. In my family, this is often expressed as "Bite mine, get bit." Mess with a member of my family, you're going to have to deal with the rest of us.

 

Some people may see this as wrong. I guess the solution there is to not mess with other people's families, then you won't have to worry about the consequences of so doing.

 

A friend of mine from Sicily once told me that the two places in the world with the strongest sense of national identity were Sicily and Texas. And both places are notorious for feuds, a powerful sense of "honor," and revenge.

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Originally posted by !@#$%

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

 

http://www.12ozprophet.com/ubb/icons/icon26.gif'>

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