December 01, 2016

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Grants Six Stays of Execution

In 2016, the number of executions in the U.S. fell to record lows. This decline has been particularly noticeable in Texas, once the most active death penalty state in the country. Since May, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest court to hear capital cases in the state, has granted six stays of executions. Each of the cases involved a claim that additional investigation or evidence was necessary before an execution could take place. Three defendants presented challenges to testimony that was used to secure their convictions at trial; one defendant sought DNA testing; and two defendants were granted stays “pending further action” of the court. While the stays have not prevented executions in Texas altogether, 2016 marks the lowest number of executions in the state in 20 years. Alongside the stays granted by the Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas state trial courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit have stayed an additional seven executions.