Wednesday's execution of Donnie Lee Roberts Jr., 41, for the 2003 shooting death of a Polk County woman marked the 250th execution during Gov. Rick Perry’s tenure. It is, by far, the largest number of executions under any recent governor in the United States, and Perry has rarely used his power to grant clemency. He has granted 31 death row commutations, most of them — 28 — the result of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning capital punishment for minors.
As Roberts' execution approached on Wednesday, Amnesty International USA, which opposes the death penalty, called on Perry to support clemency in this and future cases and to work toward ending the practice in Texas.
“Governor Perry’s anachronistic enthusiasm for state killing is in stark contrast to the clear trend away from the death penalty exhibited by ordinary Texans in juries, where death sentences have declined dramatically over the last dozen years," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
According to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice report, Texas juries during the 2011 fiscal year sent just six defendants to death row compared with 93 who were sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Perry spokesman Josh Havens said, "Like the vast majority of Texans, Gov. Perry supports the death penalty as a fitting and constitutional punishment of the most heinous crimes."
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