Harris County, Where Justice Goes to Die: An In-Depth Analysis of the Flawed System of Capital Punishment in Texas

Madeline Watterson Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Vivian Deno Butler University
Of the 1,492 executions in the United States since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, the state of Texas was responsible for 559 of them. Harris County, Texas executed an astonishing 126 of those 559 people- more than any other state in America- in the same amount of time. Why is it that Texas has disproportionately relied on capital punishment? Using Harris County as a microcosm of Texas, Harris County, Where Justice Goes to Die argues that two fundamental problems have created an environment in which the abuse of capital punishment as an institution has flourished. First, the Texas Court of Appeals is severely flawed and lacks competent defense for the accused. Second, the entrenchment of the pro-death penalty socio-political climate breeds deep support for and acceptance of the institution. While scholarship on capital punishment is rich, there is not comprehensive work that uses Harris county as a case study to exemplify the problems with capital punishment in Texas. Harris County, Where Justice Goes to Die fills that gap through an analysis of various sources including studies published by the leaders in capital punishment research, Harris county public records, and the death penalty information archives. This research exposes how these two primary problems have led to major travesties such as the execution of the clinically insane, the execution of the innocent, along with numerous other human rights violations.

Oral Presentation

When & Where

01:30 PM
Jordan Hall 301