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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…

Nebraska: Economist Goss issues invitation to debate costs of death penalty

"Nebraska spends an average of $14.6 million annually to keep the death penalty."
"Nebraska spends an average of $14.6 million annually to keep the death penalty."
Dr. Ernie Goss, professor of economics at Creighton University, is frustrated with death penalty proponents' constant challenge of his study on the cost of capital punishment in Nebraska.

So on Friday, he issued a challenge of his own. Goss wants Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, who has attacked the study, to appear with him at a public forum to debate it.

It appears Peterson is turning down the invitation.

Goss sent a letter to Peterson Friday saying there have been repeated misstatements, half truths, and misrepresentations from the Attorney General's office about the cost analysis. It showed Nebraska spends an average of $14.6 million annually to keep the death penalty, beyond what life imprisonment costs the state.

"The economic impact of the death penalty is an important component of the death penalty discussion, and voters deserve to have the real and whole truth," Goss said.

He asked that Peterson and he come together to each present their research on the cost so voters could analyze the data and decide for themselves the economic impact of Nebraska’s death penalty.

Peterson replied in a news release that he is confident in Nebraskans’ ability to determine the facts when they vote on the death penalty in November.

He said he has provided information from actual Nebraska cases and the information is available on the attorney general's website: http://ago.nebraska.gov/media/news/view/101182/nebraska-facts-about-nebraskas-death-penalty.

Nebraskans will vote on Nov. 8 whether to retain a law (LB268) passed in 2015 that repealed the death penalty, or repeal that law.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, October 29, 2016

Dr. Goss Asks AG Peterson for Public Forum on Cost of Death Penalty “...so voters can analyze the data and decide for themselves what the economic costs of Nebraska’s death penalty are"


LINCOLN, NE – Dr. Ernie Goss, professor of economics at Creighton University, today asked Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson to join him in a public forum to present their research on the cost of Nebraska's death penalty.

In August, Dr. Goss presented a study that revealed Nebraska’s maintenance of the death penalty cost the state $14.6 million annually above what the state’s cost for life without parole. Attorney General Peterson has repeatedly challenged the study and criticized Dr. Goss’ work.

Dr. Goss sent the following request Friday afternoon to AG Peterson:

"There have been, what I regard, as repeated misstatements, half truths, and misrepresentations from your office about the cost analysis I conducted showing Nebraska spends an average of $14.6 million annually to keep the death penalty, beyond what life imprisonment (without the possibility of parole) costs the state.
The economic impact of the death penalty is an important component of the death penalty discussion, and voters deserve to have the real and whole truth. I request a public forum for you and I to come together to both present our research on the cost of the death penalty so voters can analyze the data and decide for themselves what the economic costs of Nebraska’s death penalty are.
Thank you."

Sincerely,
Ernie Goss, Ph.D.
MacAllister Chair & Professor of Economics
Creighton University
Omaha, Nebraska 68178

Ernie Goss, Ph.D., is the Jack MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University and is the initial director for Creighton's Institute for Economic Inquiry. He is also principal of the Goss Institute in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goss was a visiting scholar with the Congressional Budget Office for 2003-04, and was appointed by the Nebraska Attorney General to head a task force examining gasoline pricing in the state in 2005. He served as a faculty research fellow with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1991 and 1992. Dr. Goss has conducted studies for the Platte Institute for Economic Research, a free market research and educational think tank, founded in 2008 by Pete Ricketts, now Governor of Nebraska.

Source: Retain a Just Nebraska, October 29, 2016. Retain a Just Nebraska is a public education campaign to urge the retention of LB 268, the Nebraska Legislature’s vote to end the death penalty. Supporters include fiscal conservatives, law enforcement officials, faith leaders, murder victims’ families, and Nebraskans from all walks of life. It is a statewide coalition conducting public education on the smart alternative of life in prison without parole, which protects society without the many problems of our death penalty system.

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