07 December 2017 :

In 2017, no one will be sentenced to death in Harris County, the “Capital of Capital Punishment”, and, for the first time since 1985, no one sentenced to death in the county will be executed.
Harris County (Houston), has executed 126 prisoners since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas's capital punishment statute in 1976, more than any other county in the United States and, apart from the rest of Texas, more than any state. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court also overturned two controversial Harris County death-penalty cases, resulting in agreements with county prosecutors that Duane Buck and Bobby Moore should be resentenced to life. District Attorney Kim Ogg (57, White, Houston’s first Democratic district attorney in almost four decades), elected in 2016 as a reform prosecutor, said she views these developments "as a positive thing." "I don't think that being the death penalty capital of America is a selling point for Harris County," she said.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is comprised of 329 prosecutors, 90 investigators and 277 support personnel. Texas's seven executions in 2017 are still more than were carried out in any other state, but a majority of the death warrants issued during the year did not result in executions. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted seven stays of execution in 2017 to permit prisoners to litigate claims that their convictions or death sentences were the product of defective forensic testimony, false evidence, or the suppression of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors or violated this year's Supreme Court decision in Moore v. Texas.
The seven executions statewide stood in stark contrast to the 40 executions the state carried out in 2000. Declining murder rates, the availability of life without parole as a sentencing alternative, and reduced public support for the death penalty have all contributed to the reduction of new death sentences in Harris County.
A 2016 report by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University found that the number of Houston-area residents preferring the death penalty over life sentences for those convicted of first-degree murder had fallen to just 27%.


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