WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church strongly opposes capital punishment; and
WHEREAS, in the state of Texas:
• over 515 persons have been put to death since the state resumed executions in 1982 as of 2015 (http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_executed_offenders.html);
• among the persons executed since 1982 at least nine had intellectual or developmental disabilities (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/list-defendants-mental-retardation-executed-united-states), at least 20 percent of the 290 people on death row suffered from mental illness in 2013 alone (http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/troublemind/page/0/1), and thirteen were juveniles when their crimes were committed;
• among those executed 108 African Americans were put to death for crimes against white victims (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/), and only 4 white persons were executed for crimes against African Americans (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/);
• twelve persons sentenced to die have later been proven innocent and removed from death row (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-and-death-penalty?did=412&scid=6#inn-st);
• capital trials have at times been characterized by “unreliable witnesses, lack of evidence, incorrect experts, official misconduct, and inadequate defense attorneys”;
• the Innocence Project of Texas has pointed to the likelihood that one or more innocent persons have been executed (http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Cameron_Todd_Willingham_Wrongfully_Convicted_and_Executed_in_Texas.php); and
WHEREAS, over 250 organizations of all kinds, including religious, civic, political, legal, and humanitarian groups, have officially called either for a moratorium on executions or for the abolition of the death penalty in Texas; and
WHEREAS, at least ten major newspapers in Texas have endorsed either a moratorium on executions or the abolition of capital punishment in the state;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, meeting in Fort Worth, Texas:
• express its deepest appreciation to all those organizations and individuals in the state of Texas who have valiantly struggled and continue to struggle for a more humane society in which the death penalty is rare or nonexistent;
• call upon the Texas Legislature either to abolish the death penalty completely or to stop executions in the state until such time as all capital cases can be tried in a completely equitable way;
• call upon the Texas Pardon and Parole Board and the governor to commute the sentences of persons currently on death row to life in prison without parole or to life in prison; and
• instruct the secretary of the General Conference to have copies of this resolution sent immediately to all members of the Texas Legislature, to each member of the Pardon and Parole Board, to the governor of Texas, to the Texas Conference of Churches, and to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
AMENDED AND READOPTED 2016
RESOLUTION #5037, 2008, 2012 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
See Social Principles, ¶ 164G, H.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright © 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.