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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Obama commutes the sentences of a record number of inmates

President Obama
President Obama granted clemency to a record 214 inmates on Wednesday, far surpassing his previous single-day record, as part of an ongoing effort to release federal inmates serving prison terms deemed to be unduly harsh.

To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 562 federal inmates, more than the previous nine presidents combined. 

The White House said in a statement that the president will continue commuting the sentences of inmates through his remaining months in office.

“Today began like any other for 214 federal inmates across the country, but ultimately became a day I am confident they will never forget,” said Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel. 

The 214 inmates freed represents the most commutations in a single day since at least 1900, Eggleston said.

Typically, Obama has granted clemency to 40 or 50 inmates a month. In this case, 67 of the 214 inmates had been sentenced to life in prison. 

Almost all of those released from their sentences on Wednesday had been convicted of nonviolent drug crimes, according to the White House.

The White House said the large number of commutations underscores the need for broader criminal justice reform, which has some bipartisan support but has stalled in Congress.

“While we continue to work to act on as many clemency applications as possible, only legislation can bring about lasting change to the federal system,” Eggleston said. “It is critical that both the House and the Senate continue to work on a bipartisan basis to get a criminal justice reform bill to the President’s desk.”

Click here to read the full article (+ list of inmates)

Source: The Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, August 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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