Texas Is Executing Its 500th Person

Kimberly McCarthy

Texas is set to execute its 500th person on Wednesday. Since the death penalty was restored 36 years ago, Texas has led in the number of executions, accounting today for 40 percent of the country’s total. More than half of those have happened under Governor Rick Perry’s (R) watch.

Kimberly McCarthy, who received the death penalty for murdering a white woman, will be given a lethal injection Wednesday barring a last-minute intervention. Her sentence has been halted multiple times: Once because of a claim that minority jurors were improperly struck by prosecutors in her trial. It was delayed again because Texas considered passing a North Carolina-modeled Racial Justice Act to allow people of color to appeal their sentence on grounds of discrimination. Texas never proceeded with the legislation, and North Carolina recently removed the extra protections for people of color.

The University of Denver found that a black person is more likely to receive a death sentence in Houston, Texas than white defendants. The Dallas Morning News has reported that prosecutors have systematically stacked the jury pool with white jurors, rejecting black jurors at twice the rate. Given the state’s spotted history on voting rights for minorities, it is not surprising Texas’ justice system is tainted by race as well.

During his presidential run, Perry said that Texas’ capital punishment system “works just fine. You may not agree with them, but we believe in our form of justice.” Texas’ morbid milestone includes the executions of juveniles and mentally disabled people, in addition to a slate of potentially innocent people.