This year Harris County sent nobody to death row (Rick Casey, today’s Chronicle).
- 2003 = 9
- 2004 = 10
- 2005-2007 = 7 total
all per Casey (the Death Penalty Information Center says 3 in 2005 and 3 in 2006; I couldn’t find a specific number for 2007).
These numbers reflect a turn away from the death penalty in Texas generally — in the entire state, 9 people were sentenced to death in 2008, down from 14 in 2007 and a high of 48 in 1999. The option of life without parole has to be counted as a factor, as Casey notes and as Chuck Rosenthal feared when he lobbied against it, but the excellent work of Houston criminal-defense lawyers like Danalynn Recer and the appointed capital defense bar (the vast majority of people can’t afford counsel on a death-penalty case) shouldn’t be discounted.