Reflections on the Abbatoir

Authored by: Dennis R. Longmire , Alexander H. Updegrove

Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138651579
eBook ISBN: 9781315624723
Adobe ISBN:


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Within the death penalty literature, Texas is infamous for its long and troubled history with executions. From the suspicious linkage between racially motivated mob lynchings and the rise of state-sanctioned killing in the early 1920s (Marguart, Ekland-Olsen, & Sorensen, 1994) to the almost weekly killings in 2000 under then Governor George W. Bush’s purview (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2016), Texas has appeared unapologetically infatuated with death. And yet it remains unclear whether this commitment to capital punishment truly resides in Texans’ DNA, as popular narratives would suggest, or if it is a perception largely driven by a relative few decision makers and an incomplete presentation of the facts. This chapter will explore the mythos of the Texas capital punishment system and examine the underlying assumptions contributing to this image before ultimately focusing on the critical role the Texas Legislature has played in the evolution of capital punishment practices within the State.

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