Ben Buchwalter

Gov. Rick Perry’s Death Penalty Dilemma

For Texas, the nation’s leader in legal killing, abolishing the death penalty would be an economic slam dunk. Perry, who once suggested that his state should secede from the Union, showed he was a fiscal conservative when he refused to take bailout funds for unemployment benefits. Of course, barely a month later,  he had to ask the government for a $170 million loan to cover (you guessed it) unemployment. The Death Penalty Information Center released a report in October that found that Texas could save a bundle by scaling back its execution program. Perry missed the memo:

But the swashbuckling politician—who in April suggested that Texas could secede from the Union—has only reaffirmed his embrace of the death penalty. “Our process works, and I don’t see anything out there that would merit calling for a moratorium on the Texas death penalty,” he said on Tuesday. As Zack Roth notes, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry’s top challenger for governor in 2010 and a strong supporter of the death penalty, has criticized Perry on the issue. Still, she hasn’t commented on the death penalty’s economic or ethical dimensions, instead charging that Perry’s handling of the Willingham case is “giving liberals an argument to discredit the death penalty.”


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