Inside East Texas: "The Death Penalty"

In early January, 2003, the Death Penalty issue captured national headlines. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan surprised many people when he emptied his state's death row just prior to leaving office. Ryan commuted the sentences of 167 death row inmates to life in prison.

The state of Texas is the nation's number one death penalty state with 290 executions since 1982. Governor Ryan's decision left some East Texans asking, "Could that happen here?"

Who decides whether or not to seek the death penalty? What constitutes a death penalty case? What's the appellate process? Does the average time an inmate spends on death row – ten-and-a-half years – decrease the effectiveness of the death penalty option for prosecutors?

With the high level of interest in the death penalty, we thought it would be a good time to re-visit the subject on Inside East Texas.


Tina Alexander


Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington


The Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Contributing Correspondents

James Doughty