A Federal District Court granted a stay of execution for Jeff Wood who was scheduled to be put to death this last Thursday. His attorneys requested the delay because they argue that Wood is mentally too incompetent to be executed. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio ruled that Mr. Wood’s behavior was “bizarre, seemingly paranoid and clearly suicidal.” He also blamed the Texas courts for putting Wood in a Catch-22 situation: the state courts ruled that he had to show he was insane for them to appoint a lawyer and a psychologist to help him prove he was insane. That, the judge said, is “an insane system.” (Read more in the NYT)
While support for the death penalty is high in Texas, with advocates claiming that the punishment is just, deters crime and provides comfort to victims’ families, numbers and statistics belie at least the argument for crime detention. An analysis of incarceration and crime trends in Texas found that “out of every 20 adult Texans you meet, one is under criminal justice control,” and that “if Texas were a country, it would have the highest incarceration rate in the world, easily surpassing the United States and Russia, the next two finishers, and seven times that of the next biggest prison system in China.”
In the same vein, a NYT article from September 22, 2000 concludes that states with no death penalty share lower homicide rates. If you want to move to one of these states, you can choose between Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, Hawaii, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.