The Ethics of the Texas Death Penalty and Its Impact on a Prolonged Appeals Process

T. Pearlman,
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 26(4): 655-660, 1998.

Society remains sharply divided as to the deterrent value of capital punishment. Following the reintroduction of the death penalty in the United States, Texas law mandates the affirmative predictability of future dangerousness beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury can impose the ultimate penalty for capital murder. The validity of prediction of dangerousness has been challenged in three Texas landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case of Karla Faye Tucker highlights the moral controversy that occurs when execution follows an appeals process stretching over more than a decade, during which time personality growth and the effects of prison rehabilitation may have eliminated or curbed criminal tendencies.