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Writing in the “Letters” section of El Pais, Maria Rodriguez of Madrid criticized the editors of Spain’s largest-circulation daily for devoting so much energy to protesting the execution of a Cuban convict and then remaining silent while the United States routinely conducted another state execution. Reading in the coach section of a trans-Atlantic L1011, I found myself in agreement with Ms. Rodriguez and wondering about returning to the country into which 43 years and 1,257 state executions ago I was born. Maria Rodriguez makes her argument from a higher moral ground s than most of us here occupy. The last government-sanctioned execution in Spain was conducted in 1975, and although the death penalty remains on the books for crimes committed under military law or in exceptional circumstances, such as wartime, few in Spain consider that it,will ever be used again. And this letter to the editor didn’t imply that the executions by lethal injection of Ricky Rector in Arkansas and Joe Angel Cordova in Texas weren’t covered by El Pais. They were thoroughly reported; in fact, one of the paper’s three Washington correspondents had laid out the facts and then analyzed what the commutation of the death sentence of even a severely brain-damaged man like Rector would have done to the presidential campaign of the governor of Arkansas. And whoever is responsible for the paper’s layout decisions saw to it that a story on the Texas execution of Cordova appeared on the same international page as did a story on the Havana execution of Eduardo Diaz Betancourt. So the placement of stories, if not the column-inches devoted to each case, conformed with Ms. Rodriguez’s explicitly stated principle that there are no categories of human life, and that an execution by firing squad in Havana is neither more nor less important than an execution by lethal injection in. Huntsville. Her argument was with the writers of her newspaper’s editorial page, where the execution of Betancourt in Cuba had icized. Ms. Rodriguez seemed to be arguing for equal editorial space for those executed in countries like the United States which leads the world’s democracies in the categories of the number of inmates on Death Row, the number of statesanctioned executions, and the number of homicides 25,000 in 1991 broke all previous records. In fact, few countries described as democracies ever execute anyone at all. Countries like Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden have banned capital punishment. And countries such as Canada, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom retain capital punishment statutes only to be used in excep tional circumstances. With the exception of Spain, whose military dictatorship survived into the 1970s, none of these countries has resorted to statesanctioned execution in more than 30 years. Even fewer countries execute juvenile offenders, criminals who were under 18 at the time of their offense. Other than the United States, only Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Bangladesh continue the practice. Yet, according to an Amnesty International report, since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in the early 1970s 90 juveniles have been sentenced to death; all were between the age of 15 and 17 at the time of their capital offenses. Though most convicted juveniles had their death sentences reversed in appeals courts, four were executed between 1985 and 1990 and 31 remained on death row at the time Amnesty International released its report. One Death Row inmate included among those statistics was Johnny Frank Garrett a singularly unappealing repeat offender and perpetrator of a particularly heinous crime: the rape and murder of a 76-year-old nun in her home, the St. Francis Convent in Amarillo. Despite pleas for clemency from the Bishop of Amarillo, the Sisters of St. Francis, and even Pope John Paul II, Garrett paid his debt to society on Feb. 11 when he was executed in Huntsville. “At age 12, he couldn’t read a word,” Amarillo Bishop Leroy Matthiesen said in one his of many public appeals for clemency for Garrett. The bishop also contended that because Garrett, while on Death Row, had been diagnosed as chronically psychotic, he should not be executed for a crime that he committed “in a stupor” on Halloween night when he was 17. Former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox once suggested that executions should be televised. Mattox, who always seemed troubled by the question of capital punishment, which he supported, witnessed more than 20 executions during the eight years he served as attorney general. “I don’t think anyone can witness an execution without it changing your outlook,” Mattox recently told the Fort Worth-Star-Telegram. In an interview with the Observer several months before the 1990 Democratic Primary, Gov. Ann Richards hesitated before responding to a question about her views on capital punishment. “I feel that the death penalty is the law in the state of Texas and I’m prepared to carry out that law,” Richards finally answered. On Feb. 11, after issuing a 30day stay on the execution of Johnny Frank Garrett, to allow the Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider the special circumstances of the case, as well as the clemency petitions of 18 Texas Roman Catholic bishops and the pope, she did. Executions are not televised in Texas. But the account of Johnny Frank Garrett’s execution that television producer and reporter Terry d im i THE TEXAS server FEATURES Undemocratic Dialogue By Dave Denison 4 New Hampshire Notebook By Dave Denison 6 Two Lives, Two Deaths By Terry FitzPatrick 8 Primary Election Roundup By James Cullen 12 Legislators Rated on the Issues By Texas Voters Watch 15 DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Journal 23 Political Intelligence 24 Cover illustration by Jeff Danziger FitzPatrick has written for this issue is as close as I have come to witnessing an execution. It is a television documentary done without the assistance of a camera crew; and though it includes not a single polemical phrase, a powerful abolitionist argument. On Texas’ Death Row, 351 men and four women now await execution, according to the Star-Telegram. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 44 people have been executed in Texas, which leads the nation in the number of executions conducted among the 37 states that continue to kill. Of the four juvenile offenders executed in the United States since 1976, three died in the Death House at Huntsville. Eight prisoners awaiting execution in Texas were 17 years old at the time of their crimes. Twenty-three individuals, convicted and executed in the United States, according to the Stanford Law Review, were later found to be innocent. Fifty-three percent of the American public, according to the Gallup Poll, believe that the penalty for murder should be death. L.D. PUBLISHER’S NOTE With the publication of this issue, Lou Dubose returns as editor after a year out of the office, to join associate editor James Cullen. Brett Campbell, who over the course of two years has steadfastly served the Observer as editorial assistant, associate editor, and managing editor is leaving, but will continue to work with the Observer as a contributing writer. R.D. EDITORIAL Crime in Punishment THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3