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