Kimberly McCarthy is set to be executed in Texas tomorrow, June 26th, marking the state’s 500th killing since the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in 1976.
McCarthy recently filed an appeal for a stay of execution on the grounds of racial discrimination and inadequate counsel during her 1997 trial, two reoccurring issues with capital cases. Despite a 23 percent black population in Dallas County at the time of the trial, only four of the pool of 64 potential jurors were non-white, and only one of the jurors in her case was black. McCarthy’s appeal argues that black jurors were unfairly eliminated from her jury through prosecutors’ peremptory strikes and that her counsel failed to challenge the selection process. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the appeal yesterday, citing that her claims should have been made earlier. This recent New York Times editorial details the long history of racial discrimination embedded in the death penalty system in Texas.
Despite a long history of racial concerns, Texas has executed more prisoners since 1976 than the next six states combined, accounting for more than one third of the nation’s total executions. Despite these grim statistics, executions and death sentences in Texas are declining, in line with the national trend.
(Photo via Marcia Powell)
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