ENGLISH (832) 930-3059 | SPANISH (832) 356-7254

Texas death row inmates who escaped execution after wrongful convictions – Houston Chronicle

More than in any other state, the death penalty in Texas has served as an indelible feature of the criminal justice system throughout the state’s history.

Over the last 50 years, Texas has executed 573 people, the most of any state and more than the next six states combined. Texas deaths make up more than a third of all executions in the U.S. in the modern era. In 1982, Texas became the first state to execute a person by lethal injection, now the dominant method of execution. Depending on their take on the death penalty, historians have either attributed the frequent use of execution for the most serious crimes to the state’s legacy of frontier justice, or of lynching.

Proponents of the death penalty say it serves as a powerful tool, instilling fear in the hearts of would-be murderers. But opponents say that life in prison is as effective at deterring crime, that the death penalty is too costly and that it is administered unevenly across jurisdictions and along race and class lines.

In addition, significant questions remain about how to carry out the death penalty in a way that ensures only truly guilty people end up in the death chamber.

The legal system is set up to avoid punishing innocent people through an adversarial trial and appeals process. But despite the safeguards, 186 people have been exonerated nationwide after they were sentenced to death — about one for every eight executions that have occurred in the last 50 years. And the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks these statistics, estimates 10 people have been executed in Texas despite significant evidence being presented in court to support their innocence.

This list omits a number of others who were freed because of procedural missteps by police or prosecutors. It features people who were sentenced to death but were later freed or their charges were dismissed on the basis of their innocence or lack of lawfully obtained evidence against them.

These are the Texas death row inmates who narrowly escaped execution after fighting for their lives for years — or in some cases, decades.
Edward McKinley • edward.mckinley@chron.com  • @ByEdMcKinley
Rebecca Hennes • rebecca.hennes@chron.com  • @beccaghennes
Gabrielle Banks • gabrielle.banks@chron.com  • @GabMoBanks
Lillian Thomas • lily.thomas@chron.com  • @lbeththomas
Rebecca Hennes • rebecca.hennes@chron.com  • @beccaghennes
Photo Editing
Jasmine Goldband • jasmine.goldband@chron.com  • @fotojaz
The National Registry of Exonerations; Death Penalty Information Center; The Innocence Project; Houston Chronicle; San Antonio Express-News; Texas Monthly


Leave A Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter and promotions