Kimberly McCarthy will probably die on Wednesday, June 26.
The fifty-two-year-old woman is not terminally ill; she is scheduled to die by government decree for a murder she allegedly committed in 1997. This would make her the 500th prisoner to be executed by the state of Texas since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976.
Unless she receives a last-minute stay of execution, McCarthy will face lethal injection for the murder of her neighbor. That stay could happen: in January of this year, and again in April, she prepared herself for the death chamber, only to get a last-minute reprieve.
From The Guardian:
“She is a very spiritual person. She believes what’s meant to be is meant to be, and it’s all in God’s hands,” said Maurie Levin, McCarthy’s legal counsel since January.
Now Levin has filed a new motion to stay execution with the Texas court of criminal appeals. The filing argues that McCarthy has suffered from two fundamental flaws that persistently crop up in death penalty cases.
“As it turns out, Kimberly McCarthy is an African American woman scheduled to be the 500th person to be executed in Texas. Her case raises two of the most typical issues in the administration of the death penalty: race discrimination and the quality of counsel,” Levin told the Guardian.
Specifically, the application for a stay of execution alleges that prosecutors in McCarthy’s case deliberately set out to distort the racial composition of the jury as part of an ongoing culture of discrimination. That’s because while Dallas County, the area around the city of Dallas, where the trial was held, is 69% white and 23% black, only one juror in the case was African-American.
I am against the death penalty in all cases, since I believe no government has the right to deliberately take a person’s life. But in addition it is well-known that two of the major reasons to end capital punishment are:
1. Inadequate Legal Representation
Perhaps the most important factor in determining whether a defendant will receive the death penalty is the quality of the legal representation he or she is provided.
2. Racial Disparities
The race of the victim and the race of the defendant in capital cases are major factors in determining who is sentenced to die in this country.
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world still using the death penalty, with 3,125 people currently on death row. Progress is being made, however, and Maryland is the most recent state to abolish capital punishment. After passage of the law, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley wrote:
Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole. What’s more, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.
Seventeen other U.S. states have banned capital punishment, including in the last six years, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois. (The District of Columbia has also rejected capital punishment.)
Texas, however, continues to show more enthusiasm for capital punishment than any other state.
To quote Eugene Robinson, from The Washington Post in September, 2011:
There was a chilling moment in a recent GOP candidates’ debate when Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked about having authorized 234 executions, more than any other governor in modern U.S. history. The crowd, drawn largely from Tea Party ranks, cheered this record as if it were a great accomplishment.
“I’ve never struggled with that at all,” Perry said, referring to execution as “the ultimate justice.”
But he should struggle with it. We all should.
Deliberately taking another person’s life is a barbaric form of revenge. Texas should not be proud of executing 500 human beings as “the ultimate justice.” Sign the petition against Texas’s flawed execution policies.