Texas executed a prisoner on May 19, 2021, and signaling states are prepared to restart executions following a break during much of the pandemic. It was Texas’ first execution in nearly ten months.
Quintin Jones’ brother Benjamin Jones had hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court or Governor Greg Abbott would save his life or provide a last-minute reprieve. Quintin Jones, 41, was sentenced to death.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said on Wednesday evening that Jones was executed by lethal injection at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville and was declared dead at 6:40 p.m., roughly 10 minutes after the fatal injection started. Execution procedures generally differ from that of other states.
Quintin Jones’s execution was carried out without any witnesses from the media. The organization apologized for the “serious blunder,” blaming a “miscommunication amongst officials,” and committed to investigating how it occurred.
Quintin Phillippe Jones was found guilty of murdering his great-aunt Berthena Bryant in 1999 and stealing $30 to buy narcotics while assaulting her with a baseball bat.
Jones, who was 19 then, said he had changed his life in jail and shouldn’t be put to death even though he didn’t deny perpetrating the crime or seek to be released. Jones asked Abbott in a short clip published by The New York Times the previous week to “find it in your heart to grant me pardon.”
According to the criminal justice department, Jones thanked “all of the supporting persons who assisted me over the years” in his final statement before being put to death.
He remarked, “I was delighted to leave this world a better, more lively place. With all the negativity, life is not simple.
“I cherish every one of my friends and the connections I have formed. Like the sky, they are, “Jones said. “Like a huge full plate of food for the soul, it is all a part of life. I hope that everyone received a plate of food that was filled with pleasant memories, joy, and no sadness.”
Recommendation Against Clemency
The Texas Board issued a recommendation against clemency on Tuesday. Republican Abbott had the option of granting a 30-day stay, but the board’s rejection of clemency guaranteed the execution would proceed.
When lower appeals including the Texas board refused to halt the execution, Jones’ attorney Michael Mowla unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court.
Abbott took office in 2015; since then, he has only once mitigated a death sentence. Texas has executed more than 50 individuals in the last six years, most recently in July, the last time a state carried out an execution. During the pandemic, the federal government under the Trump administration lift the halt on executions.
After Oregon discontinued the practice in 2019, Texas is the only state that mandates jurors consider “future dangerousness” in situations involving the death penalty.
The concept of “future dangerousness,” according to University of Houston law professor David Dow, who has defended death row inmates, can be subjective and nebulous. Jurors must determine whether a defendant could recur as a threat and where they could lash out, such as in prison or public, if released.
The most prominent psychiatric organization in the country, the American Psychiatric Association, has submitted briefs to the Supreme Court, claiming that the “unreliability of psychiatric inclinations of long-term future dangerousness is by now an acknowledged fact within the profession.”
A 2004 study by the Texas Defender Service, a group that defends defendants in capital cases, found that of the more than 150 cases it reviewed, only 5% of inmates later committed serious assaults, while 75% of inmates had disciplinary violations that did not involve serious assaults or were for minor offenses like having food in their cells, and 20% of inmates had no disciplinary violations. Only two prisoners were later charged with crimes while they were incarcerated, too.
A Nonviolent and Model Prisoner
Jones has been a nonviolent and model prisoner, proving he could be kept behind bars without posing a risk to the outside population or the inmate or guard population, according to Dow, who claimed Jones was “sentenced to death, not for what he did, but because of what a jury predicted he would do, and that prediction has proven false.”
Since 1982, Texas has carried out 576 executions. More than any other governor in American history, 279 incidents occurred during Rick Perry’s time as governor of Texas (2001–2014).
Texas has already carried out three executions this year, and two more are planned for the remaining months. As of 10/6/22, three executions have already been scheduled for 2023.
There have been 131 executions in Harris County alone, more than in any other state besides Texas. Bexar County has 46 executions, whereas Dallas County records 62.
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Capital jury trials involving the death sentence began in the second half of 2021 after reaching a complete standstill in 2020 due to the pandemic. Three people were given death sentences by Texas juries last year. No one has been given a death sentence yet in 2022, and the prosecution has frequently dropped the death penalty as a possible punishment.
Texas has the third-highest number on death row in the country, after Florida (324) and California* (697).
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the execution ban on March 13, 2019.
Race and Executions in Texas
Death sentences are still often given to individuals of color in Texas despite a drop in their use. Two-thirds of death penalties over the past five years have been handed down to individuals of color, with Black defendants receiving 40% of those punishments. Two defendants who received death sentences in 2021 were Black, while one was White.
According to studies, Texas prosecutors seek the death sentence more frequently for black defendants than white defendants. Previous analysis revealed that while black Texans were frequently underrepresented in jury pools, they may be overrepresented on death row.
In a conversation with The Texas Tribune, education publisher Pearson described how race might influence cases involving the death penalty in Texas.