Crashing the Executioners' Ball in Philadelphia

by Tom Gardner Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000 at 11:04 AM

Why does Mumia deserve a new trial? Why should people of conscience oppose the death penalty. Some background on Philly-style "justice"


I know very little about James Clayton beyond the fact that he was killed by George W. Bush on May 25, 2000, making him the 130th prisoner to be executed in Texas during Bush's tenure as governor.

Clemency is an issue Bush swears has little to do with him. Whenever you write to Bush asking him to grant clemency to a death row inmate, you get back a conservatively compassionate letter saying, in effect, that Bush feels duty-bound to honor the vow he evidently believes he took as governor promising to kill as many prisoners as he can; and that, in any case, he does not have the power to grant clemency on his own.

The latter claim, though not technically false, is the moral equivalent of an outright mendacity, the kind of misleading statement that only a politician could try to pass off as "true" in any meaningful sense. As Alan Berlow pointed out in the May 11, 2000 issue of the online magazine Salon, in an article titled "The Hanging Governor":

Under Texas law, Bush can only commute a death sentence if he receives a recommendation to do so from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Absent such a recommendation, Bush's legal authority is limited to granting a 30-day reprieve.

Bush has used this legal technicality repeatedly to suggest that he actually has no power to stop an execution

Original: Crashing the Executioners' Ball in Philadelphia