During last night's debate, Brian Williams prefaced a question about the death penalty to Governor Rick Perry by saying, "your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times," to which the audience at the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library responded with applause.
Williams then asked, "have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?" "No, sir, I've never struggled with that at all," Perry responded. "In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill
one of our children, you kill a police officer, you're involved with
another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the
ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be
executed." The audience again cheered.
"What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the
mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?" Williams asked. "I think Americans understand justice," Perry explained.
Rick Perry has presided over a criminal justice system in Texas which has failed to provide capital defendants with qualified counsel or adequate funds to obtain a fair trial. Among the unprecedented 234 executions, there is at least one with overwhelmingly strong evidence of innocence, but Perry has successfully thwarted any meaningful investigation. He has flouted international law and rejected pleas from not only the President but from diplomatic and military leaders in executing foreign nationals who were deprived of their consular rights. A psychologist who examined 16 inmates subsequently sentenced to death, including two who have been executed, and found them intellectually competent, has since been banned from performing mental evaluations due to using "unscientific" methods.
I'm not sure what is more troubling, the fact that Governor Perry is proud of such a despicable record or that it is so easy to rely on it as an applause line.