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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…

San Quentin Death Row inmate slashes an officer in the shower

San Quentin's Death Row
San Quentin's Death Row
A Death Row inmate at San Quentin State Prison slashed a correctional officer with a makeshift weapon inside one of the facility’s showers — a decade after he pulled a similar attack on another correctional officer, authorities said Monday.

Richard Penunuri, 38, attacked the officer shortly after 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 as he was being secured in a shower stall at the prison’s East Block Housing Unit, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The officer was removing Penunuri handcuffs in the shower when the condemned prisoner quickly grabbed the officer’s right arm and slashed it with a homemade weapon, officials said.

The officer sustained a significant injury to his forearm and was taken to a hospital outside of the prison for treatment. Authorities said the guard is expected to make a full recovery.

Penunuri, one of 749 inmates housed in the prison’s Death Row, was sentenced in Los Angeles County on Feb. 1, 2001 for the 1997 gang-related slayings of Bryan Molina, 17, and Michael Murillo, 18. The victims were not gang members and were “unintended targets,” prison officials said.

Penunuri was also convicted on an additional count of first-degree murder after he ordered a hit on a witness, Jamie Castillo, to prevent him from testifying in the double-murder trial.

In 2006, Penunuri slashed another San Quentin correctional officer on the arm as he was being locked into his cell, prompting a prison-wide lockdown. The wound nearly reached the officer’s bone and required 30 stitches, officials said.

Penunuri will receive a rules violation for last week’s attack, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the department. Officials investigating the incident will provide their findings to the Marin County district attorney’s office, which will decide whether to press charges, she said.

Source: SF Gate, October 10, 2016

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