Cameron Todd Willingham

Cheers and Jeers
September 16, 2011

It was an ugly moment at the September 7 Republican debate when the discussion turned to the death penalty. “Governor Perry, a question about Texas,” moderator Brian Williams began. “Your state has executed two-hundred thirty-four death-row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times.” Suddenly, Williams was interrupted by an outburst of applause and cheers from the audience. The point being made by the Republican spectators could not have been clearer: The death penalty was not just a policy they favored. It was something to celebrate.

Don’t Blame Perry for Texas’s Execution Addiction. He Doesn’t Have Much to Do With It.
September 02, 2011

When Rick Perry assumed the governorship in December, 2000, Texas was already the execution capital of the United States, responsible for more than a third of the nation’s executions since 1976. Now, almost eleven years later, the state has even further out-paced the rest of the country, with its share of executions growing to over 40 percent during Perry’s watch. Though it may be tempting—for either Perry’s supporters or his critics—to credit (or discredit) the governor with this super-sized slice of the pie chart of American executions, such an attribution would be in error.

Beyond Cameron Todd Willingham: Rick Perry’s Five Most Controversial Executions
August 20, 2011

Since Rick Perry declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination last week, much ink has been spilled over the controversy surrounding his decision as governor to execute Cameron Todd Willingham—a man whose innocence was advocated by many investigative reports, including a popular investigation by David Grann in The New Yorker. But with 234 executions and counting under Perry’s belt, Willingham hardly represents the only figure whose case and subsequent execution has became the subject of controversy.

Executing an Innocent Man
November 15, 2010

From the Texas Observer: Claude Jones always claimed that he wasn’t the man who walked into an East Texas liquor store in 1989 and shot the owner. He professed his innocence right up until the moment he was strapped to a gurney in the Texas execution chamber and put to death on Dec. 7, 2000.

Presumed Guilty
October 28, 2009

A few weeks ago, I posted a "Nightline" segment featuring an interview with John Jackson, the prosecutor in the death penalty case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Willingham, who was almost certainly innocent, was nonetheless found guilty and executed by the state of Texas in 2004. The basis for the conviction was evidence given by arson investigators that was subsequently shown to be entirely unscientific.

Will Rick Perry Get Away with Murder?
October 14, 2009

Not murder in the literal sense, of course, though in this case the metaphor is less distant than one would prefer.

Dead Letter, Ctd.
October 08, 2009

For any interested in witnessing the willfully slipshod and malevolent manner in which the state of Texas applies the death penalty, "Nightline" has done a follow-up segment to David Grann's New Yorker piece on the wrongful execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.

The Bloodlust State, Ctd.
October 05, 2009

Every time it seems that Texas's application of the death penalty cannot become a greater moral disgrace, officials in the state find a way to outdo themselves.

Dead Letter
September 01, 2009

It is easy to disagree about the death penalty in the abstract, but anyone who doesn't harbor serious reservations about its application--the racial disparities, the often dubious safeguards, the eleventh-hour Death Row exonerees--isn't paying adequate attention.