Texas May Switch to Determining Guilt of Prisoners Before Executions

Job retraining of death-row staff one of the challenges with paradigm shift.

N LIGHT OF the inconvenient press surrounding the possibility that Cameron Todd Willingham was wrongly executed before new evidence was fully considered, Texas penal experts are weighing the pros and cons of reviewing such evidence before rather than after a prisoner is executed.

As outlined in a new document by the Texas Penal Administration, the pros for prisoners of a shift in evidence review would include features such as breathing, and in some cases even freedom, should new evidence result in complete exoneration.

The paper expressed "fair to good" confidence that "most prisoners would transition successfully from being incarcerated and facing almost certain death to living free and shopping at Target."

However, the writers did suggest that some additional costs might be incurred for the hiring of life coaches.

"It wouldn't be long," warned the paper, "before a man set free would want to live what Oprah calls 'your best life.'" The costs of possible life coaches were not viewed as excessive, though, given that a significant portion of a prisoner's years would already have been spent on death row and "are non-refundable and non-transferable."

The potential for arresting the person actually responsible for a crime was also cited in the document as a "very nice plus," especially due to the "win-win situation" of setting an innocent person free "while not losing sight of the life-cessation core value of our mission."

On the negative side, the paper acknowledged that the shift in Texas' employment opportunities would heavily favor "those who could successfully navigate years of law school" over "those who could successfully locate a good vein."

The penal administration did concede, however, that unemployed death-row technicians "could be fairly easily retrained to serve the non-condemned population" in work such as seasonal flu vaccinations at the many convenience clinics located throughout Texas.

"We believe that our retrained technicians would not be averse to being thanked after administering an injection," the paper noted in conclusion, "although it might take some getting used to."