13 August 2007

Why Does Texas Execute So Many?

Via Reuters UK (Hat tip to Sentencing Law and Policy Blog):

Governor Perry is a devout Christian, highlighting one key factor in Texas' enthusiasm for the death penalty that many outsiders find puzzling -- the support it gets from conservative evangelical churches.

This is in line with their emphasis on individuals taking responsibility for their own salvation, and they also find justification in scripture.

"A lot of evangelical Protestants not only believe that capital punishment is permissible but that it is demanded by God. And they see sanction for that in the Old Testament especially," said Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Many people call themselves Christian, but the label obscures a variety of de facto religions, some relatively mild mannered and merciful, others full of wrath.


Sotosoroto said...

Is Delaware full of evangelicals, too? They have the same per-capita percentage of executions as Texas.

Note that Oklahoma is by far the highest in this regard, not Texas. Texas just has more people.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Oklahoma is religiously pretty similar to Texas.

Why does Delaware have a high execution rate? A good question that I can only speculate upon. A long history of Republican rule, an almost entirely suburban population, a healthy dose of evangelical religion (particularly intense recently where efforts to create "Christian" public schools in the Indian River School District basically harassed a Jewish family into leaving the District), and the fact that in a place so small, individual personalities can have a huge impact on overall results all likely play a part. Delaware's execution rate is a recent phenomena, and most of those executions happened on the watch of a single governor.

Of course, nothing compels the reasons in Delaware to be the same as those in Texas.