Indeed this is the first national news story I've seen to give Rick Perry credit for actually reducing the number of death sentences in Texas via life without parole legislation he signed in 2005, reporting that:
eight people were sent to death row last year in Texas, compared with 49 death sentences in 1994.An ally from the Lege emailed to point the story out to me and declared, "I'm sure you will get some hate mail from the anti-dp crowd," but "I think you're right."
Criminal justice advocates won't go so far as to call Perry a reformer, and indeed, the governor has done little to exercise clemency in death penalty cases in which there are clear procedural flaws.
But to judge him solely on the 236 executions on his watch is unfair, says Scott Henson, who writes the respected criminal justice blog Grits for Breakfast.
"Capital punishment is a media fetish," he says. "It's not really something that stands out as a remarkable part of Rick Perry's criminal justice record."
Henson has a theory: Perry has so little to do with executions that he strains to take credit for them, knowing how popular capital punishment is with voters.
See these related, recent Grits posts: