N111111M041144101.004NINNOMIMIA=11.10 New Odds on Repeal Austin The prospect for House consideration of the bill to abolish capital punishment improved this week, apparently as a result of a trade-out Rep. Charles Whitfield, Houston, made with Gov. John Connally. Whitfield Tuesday reversed his field and supported a four-year term for governor, which he had opposed previously. The same day Whitfield handed to the Observer a typed copy of a statement on capital punishment by Connally, who has supported capital punishment before. “I have no unrelenting position on capital punishment,” Connally’s statement said. “I think we all agree that protection of society against the conduct of the anti-social criminal is the principal consideration. My decision on any capital punishment bill which reaches my desk would be based solely on a determination of whether these adequate safeguards are provided.” “I’m willing to gamble” that this means Connally would sign his bill, Whitfield said. He now believes that the subcommittee that has his bill is 4-3 for it, possibly 5-2, as a result of a his concession on retaining capital punishment for killing prison guards or law officers. He says that a test run of the House showed 61-51 opposition to abolition, with this concession insufficiently explained and with many undecided, even so. 0111.10.Mf0 00411100.11111 ford unearthed a psychiatrist’s report saying Ashley was not sane that the Houston D.A., Frank Briscoe, had not presented in evidence, and in the appeal Lunsford accused Briscoe of suppressing it. After reversal of the convictions on this ground, Ashley was sent to a mental hospital and Miss Lima was given five years. \(Ashley escaped, and the FBI has him on its “ten most wanted” list. Miss Lima served her the fallibility of lawyers and others charged to do justice. “Such small factors as dramatics in the courtroom, the health of the lawyer, the health of the jury” can decide a case, he said. Dr. John Silber, a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, testified as president of the Texas Society to Abolish Capital Punishment. He reviewed evidence Observer readers of some tenure have been apprised of before, evidence from exhaustive British and American studies that there is no clear evidence that the death penalty does or does not affect the homicide rate and that the claim that it deters crime is put in doubt by the absence of statistical evidence establishing that it does. Silber advised the legislators that homicide rates in the states that do not have the death penalty is “considerably less than half” those in the states that do have it. Of the five men executed in Texas last year, Silber said, not only were they all Negroes; four of them had court-appointed attorneys, and the lawyer for the fifth one “told us he did not have adequate funds for the appeal.” Three of the five were convicted in Harris County, which therefore was responsible for “one-fifth of all persons executed in all jurisdictions in the United States last year.” Wiliam Walsh, Houston attorney and an adviser to the American Bar Assn. project to establish national standards for the administration of criminal justice, stressed that when a district attorney asks tile death penalty he gets a lot of publicify, and he usually tries the case himself. Politics should have nothing to do with taking a man’s life, Walsh said. Roy Evans, Texas AFL-CIO secretarytreasurer, seconded this thought, saying some attorneys seek the death penalty “simply because they want to be a hero.” Labor opposes having it, Evans said, because it’s “class legislationThere are no rich people getting killed in the electric chair or being hung”and because it is not a civilized penalty. The American Civil Liberties Union having concluded recently that capital punishment violates civil liberties, Cody Wilson, a professor in psychology at U.T., speaking for the Texas ACLU, testified that execution may constitute cruel and unusual punishment and that it does violate due process because it is administered differentially as to persons and from state to state and it cuts off the possibility of further review. Wilson also described evidence he has developed that qualifying jurors in capital cases as persons who believe in the death penalty produces juries more likely to convict. \(Rep. Bob Eckhardt, Houston, has introduced a bill to illegalize so qualifying jurors, and Three church people and a housewife, Mrs. Helen Emerson, also testified for repeal. Rep. Honore Ligarde, Laredo, is Whitfield’s first co-sponsor \(the others are Carpenter, Brooks, Weiting, Harrison, TWO MEN argued passionately for the death penalty, Lewis E. Berry, executive secretary of the Sheriffs’ Assn. of Texas, and retired Fort Worth policeman A. C. Howerton. Berry emphasized that ten states abolished the death penalty but reinstated it. He quoted from the minority report of the state commission in New York that repeal “may be taken by the lawless masses as a signal for even further outbreaks of lawlessness.” Killing some criminals does deter crime, although statistics do not prove that it does or doesn’t, Berry said. All professional safecrackers refuse to carry firearms because they might use them; many of these people “specifically state” this is because of the death penalty, Berry said. One “can only assume” it has been a deterring factor. It is needed, he said, because of “murderers and ravishers of young girls, especially those who are mere infants, and lifers killing guards.” But Berry agreed vehemently that certainty of punishment and swiftness of trial are the greatest deterrents to crime, “not the severity of punishment.” This caused Eckhardt to say that Berry was “more philosophical” than he had been in previous hearings on the subject. “Mr. Eckhardt, I’m not as rabid as I used to be,” Berry said. Berry said deterrence, not vengeance, ought to be the purpose of punishment. Eckhardt asked if executing rapists “is rather a reflection of our horror at the offense rather than anything else,” and Berry said “I’m sure there’s a certain amount of truth to that.” Berry said that it is inconsistent with deterrence to execute prisoners “hiding away behind those walls” and seemed to assent to theidea of a fiveyear trial moratorium on the death penalty. Howerton, who said he was just an old cotton-pickin’ boy who had spent 37 years in law enforcement on homicides, robberies, and assaults, said the death penalty is . justified in “very few cases.” “The only area is those vicious, heinous assault cases. I’ve seen ’em bleeding at the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. I witnessed one woman criminally assaulted a couple of times and her tongue cut half out with a piece of glass. There was a darling eightyear baby girl who was grabbed by an exconvict as she was tripping home, and I hesitate to say to you what happened in the rear of that automob!le, which caused one of the most extensive manhunts in the history of North Texas. I am talking about breaking into a home, murdering an entire family . . . I walked into a home one night, it was so vicious that from the blows they received on the head, that the blood fiom the weapon they used, they could count the number of blows that they struck. Many times, many times, I went to motels, hotels, these people had been convicted several times, they were armed to the teeth, as we were armed, under those conditions. I felt the string and the pain of criminal bullets as they passed through my back.” He said he had talked to a number of heisters who did not use guns and said they “didn’t want to take a chance on killin’ someone.” “I’m talkin’ from my heart as a law enforcement man,” Howerton said. “Every man is entitled to every right. . . . It’s not a question of race against race.” Bonilla said he was concerned about what he insisted is simply the fact that most people executed n Texas are poor or members of minority groups. He asked Howerton if many of those persons who commit vicious crimes are not mentally sick. “I don’t thinkmost of them are excons, that I’ve handled,” Howerton replied. The Whitfield bill, which would make the maximum penalty for crime life imprisonment with parole rights restricted to require at least ten years actually in prison, was turned over to Reps. Nugent, Duggan, Kapp, Mcllhany, Townsend, Harrison, and Satterwhite. R.D. April 16, 1965 T.
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