Amicus Review: Death Penalty Use in Texas Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and Changing Prosecutors

Updated: Mar 19

Amicus will be publishing a series of reviews and comments on the way capital punishment is presented within the media. Covering books, films, peer-reviewed articles and mainstream news, our work will cover the whole spectrum of public exposure to this violent form of justice. We hope that this will provide some context to the work that we do and raise awareness of the inherent injustices that face ordinary people on death row as well as recommending some good books and films along the way. If you have any questions about the project, the content or about our work then please get in touch at amicus_uol@outlook.com


Death Penalty Use in Texas Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and Changing Prosecutors - Alfie Gower – Review by Renee Bourne

This article is concise and to a large degree informative about the amount of death penalty sentences which have been given in recent years. Alfie Gower explains how that there has been a decline in executions in the last twenty years and that the pandemic had stopped many executions in America, due to public health concerns. Despite this, Texas still undertook an execution in ‘July 2020 to Billy Joe Wardlow for a crime he committed in 1993 when he was only 18 years old.’ Additionally, he brings attention to the racial discrimination on death row as 44% of its population, in Texas, presently are African Americans. This is very relevant to amicus as it highlights the challenges that amicus face, amongst which are the politicised court system and racial bias. However, Gower believes that elected prosecutors has been an advantage to progression as in recent years, reform-oriented prosecutors have come in to power like that of ‘Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales who sought the death penalty on only two occasions.’ Despite this he makes it apparent that racial bias is an issue that has failed to be addressed as the number of African American people receiving the death penalty as not declined and accounts for much of the population of death row, not exclusive to Texas, but also the rest of America. Furthermore, this article is also relevant to Amicus as journals and articles within the charity must explain the current state of affairs concerning capital punishment worldwide, which this article does. Overall, this is an informative article however, it does not go into detail into explaining the effects of Covid-19, it just explains it as coming to a halt. The article also describes that there was an ‘increasing public intolerance for the practice’, which I do not doubt is true, but there is not evidence to support such claims. The article could also benefit from a conclusion of the authors overall thoughts as it ends very abruptly. Despite it not going into much detail and further analysis, it is an informative piece which presents a decline in death penalty use Texas, which is what it set out to do.

Key Quote: ‘despite the global health crisis, Texas was still one of only two states that put anyone to death outside the federal government in 2020’


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