The thought of executing an innocent person is perhaps our criminal
justice system's worst nightmare. People are wrongfully convicted and
sent to prison all too often. These mistakes, however, can be corrected.
But with the death penalty, there is no instant replay or "do-overs."
We cannot un-execute someone. Therefore, it was indeed disturbing to read
recent media reports strongly suggesting that Carlos DeLuna was innocent
of the crime for which he was executed by the state of Texas in
December1989. DeLuna, sadly, may not be alone in this category. Other
mediareports over the past year have strongly suggested that Ruben Cantu
and Cameron Todd Willingham, executed by Texas in 1993 and 2004
respectively, were also innocent.
The Texas Legislature should enact a moratorium on executions in the
regular session that starts in January. We need to take a time out on
executions and study what causes wrongful convictions to occur and why
innocent people are at risk of being executed in Texas. The best way to
ensure that innocent people are not executed is to end the death penalty
permanently. That is the only way to prevent the tragedy of Carlos DeLuna
and his family from repeating itself when another innocent person is