By Kyle Peveto, Arts Editor
I love Texas. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I rarely leave the state. And I rarely want to.
I love the pride Texans have about our state.
All of nature is beautiful and all states have beautiful scenery, but Texas is so unique.
Towns full of nosey, high school football-loving people greet me at every caf‚ and gas station I stop at on my statewide trek from Buna in Southeast Texas to Abilene that I make multiple times each year.
But I am often embarrassed to live here because of the death penalty.
I am embarrassed by the old-time justice philosophy we often flaunt. Texas is known throughout the world as the death penalty leader of the United States.
The March issue of The Atlantic Monthly, spurred by the moratorium recently imposed in Illinois, featured a two-page diagram of the United States and the statistics on each state’s death penalty stance.
It saddens me that Texas has executed 289 people since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977.
What saddens me more is the fact that only seven have been exonerated in that time in this state.
The state closest to Texas in executions is Virginia, which has killed 87 while exonerating one.
Since I was able to form my own opinions on social issues, I have not understood the common conservative Christian view on the death penalty. Why are Christians normally such staunch supporters of capital punishment? I have never felt comfortable allowing our imperfect justice system to rule on the life of anyone, no matter how immoral or evil that person is.
My main problem with capital punishment is the inequality of the punishment. Kill someone in Harris County, which encompasses Houston and has executed 67 since ’77, and you have a much better chance of being tried for capital murder than in almost any small, rural county. The reason: small counties cannot afford to try capital murder cases. These cases are extremely expensive.
Counties can buy new road graders for the cost of a capital murder case.
Although blacks and whites are murdered in nearly equal amounts, those who kill whites account for 81 percent of executions in the United States. Race of the killer is not as much of a factor as the race of the killed.
Though DNA testing has reduced the margin of error in capital murder cases and fewer innocent people are being put to death, I believe executions should end because of the inequality of our state sanctioned killing.
In conversations with Christians in my generation, I believe we are much more open to changing the common Christian view on executions.
In the future, when we are the policymakers, I hope we can change our outdated “eye for an eye” Christian philosophy.