the execution of his great-grandfather, Richard Johnson. According to state criminal records and news accounts, Johnson escaped from prison three times while serving a 35-year sentence for burglary, and he was charged with killing a man after his third escape. He was convicted of murder in October 1931 and executed in the electric chair in August 1932.Whether because of this reveation or coincidental to it, Watkins announced he's reconsidering his position on capital punishment, somewhat opaquely calling for a review of the death penalty in Texas. Grits must admit, I never know what that means whenever it's said. How much more "review" can there be? It's virtually the only criminal justice-issue besides police shootings that the MSM consistently covers.
Watkins said he did not get a full explanation of what happened until he became district attorney. His grandmother, who was a young girl when her father was executed, still struggles with the story, according to Watkins and his mother, Paula.
I don't care how much you "review" the death penalty, the Texas public overwhelmingly supports it, even if it turns out the state has executed an innocent person. My boss Jeff Blackburn has called the death penalty Texas' "state religion," and in many ways I think that captures it: For the public, it's important for the same reasons the Aztecs valued ritual blood sacrifice. Blood sacrifice among the Aztecs didn't really make the seasons change or impact cosmology, just as our modern, more sanitized version does little to reduce murders or crime. (Ironically, though murder rates have gone down everywhere, they've declined less rapidly in states like Texas that use the death penalty most frequently.) But you could never convince Aztec priests nor politicians supporting the death-penalty of that intellectual disconnect because it's important to the public at an almost psychic and/or symbolic level: "The world is a terrible place so we must do a terrible thing to make it right."
To me, whether the death penalty is right or wrong is not a rational question with a "correct" yes or no answer. One's opinion on it usually tells you more about the person than it does the issue - it's in many ways a moral, ethical and political Rorschach test - and the best answer, as is frustratingly often the case, is "it depends" ... as always, pending review.