On Wednesday, Texas is set to reach the "shameful milestone" of executing its 500th inmate since it reinstated in the death penalty in 1982.
52-year-old Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled to die by lethal injection shortly after 6 PM in Huntsville, Texas after her lawyer exhausted all efforts to appeal the execution.
The Guardian's Ed Pilkington writes that it "will confirm Texas's dubious distinction of being the undisputed champion of judicial killings."
As Nick Chiles reports at the Atlanta Black Star:
Texas kills an average of one inmate every three weeks, a pace that makes it by far the most active state in the killing business. Of the 34 states that have the death penalty on the books, Texas has killed almost five times more people than the runner-up, Virginia, which has had 110 executions since the death penalty was federally reinstated in 1976.
Among the previous 499 inmates killed by Texas before this "shameful milestone," Amnesty International points out, "there have been prisoners suffering from severe mental illness or intellectual disability, and teenage defendants who had been provided with woefully inadequate legal representation."
In addition to being the 500th person to be executed in the state since the death penalty's reinstatement, Sadhbh Walshe writes,
McCarthy will also be the 185th black person. This is significant because it means that in a state where African Americans make up just 12.2% of the population, they account for around 37% of those who are executed. This is disturbing of itself, but all the more so because McCarthy's application for a stay was based on claims that her conviction and death sentence were the result of a process that was infected by racial discrimination.
Amnesty International explains:
McCarthy's death sentence was for the murder of a 71-year-old white neighbor Dorothy Booth, who was stabbed to death in 1997. At the 2002 trial - which was a retrial - the jury consisted of 11 white members and one person of color. At the jury selection, only four out of 64 prospective members of the jury were black, and three of these were dismissed by the prosecution - a decision which was never challenged by McCarthy's lawyer.
"The shameful errors that plague Ms. McCarthy's case--race bias, ineffective counsel and courts unwilling to exercise meaningful oversight of the system--reflect problems that are central to the administration of the death penalty as a whole," Maurie Levin, McCarthy's lawyer, said. "For this to be the emblem of Texas' 500th execution is something all Texans should be ashamed of."
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