On June 26, the death penalty in Texas reached a milestone – the ?500th inmate was executed since reinstating capital punishment in 1982.?Kimberly McCarthy, 52, was put to death by lethal injection for the 1997 stabbing murder of retired college professor Dorothy Booth. Before becoming addicted to crack cocaine, McCarthy had worked as a nursing home therapist.
A grave milestone, the execution of McCarthy is a somber reminder that for the last 31 years, Texas has executed on average 16 people a year. The Lone Star State, in fact, is responsible for putting to death nearly 40 percent of the more than 1,300 executions that have been carried out in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976.
McCarthy’s execution also reminds us that Texas prefers to take a reactive rather than proactive approach to criminal justice. Instead of fostering a system that reaches out to society’s most vulnerable citizens — those with the greatest risk of committing crimes out of desperation — Texas chooses to cut funding to essential services like education, health and family planning. These services are much more of a deterrent to criminal behavior than capital punishment, which is costly, barbaric, and ultimately a failure.
With that in mind, below are 30 milestones Texas should be recognizing instead of the 500th execution.
1. The 500th wrongly-convicted inmate to be exonerated.
2. The 500th homeless person to be permanently rescued off the streets and given suitable work.
3. The 500th low-income child to have a safe, healthy household to come home to after school every day.
4. The 500th veteran to be given adequate mental health attention, mitigating his risk of suicide.
5. The 500th “troubled youth” to re-enroll in school and earn his diploma.
6. The 500th struggling family to escape the grips of poverty and get off of public assistance.
7. The 500th teacher whose job isn’t lost to education cuts.
8. The 500th employer to provide each of his workers with a livable wage and respectable benefits.
9. The 500th soldier to return home to his family following the closure of the war in Afghanistan.
10. The 500th senior citizen to reach retirement without having to worry about receiving affordable medical attention and prescription drugs.
11. The 500th young person to be the first of her family to attend college.
12. The 500th college student to graduate without crippling debt and find immediate employment.
13. The 500th company to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
14. The 500th same-sex couple to be married.
15. The 500th black or Latino voter to enter a voting booth, knowing that his voice equals that of his white neighbors.
16. The 500th person to install solar panels on her rooftop or otherwise invest in renewable energy.
17. The 500th young woman who need not worry about an unplanned pregnancy, thanks to easily accessible birth control.
18. The 500th charity to spend far more than 70% of its total revenue on actual charity work.
19. The 500th farmer to produce reasonably-priced organic crops, helping more people have access to pesticide free produce.
20. The 500th obese person to shed enough weight to significantly decrease his chances of an early death.
21. The 500th woman to earn an equal salary as a man for performing the same job.
22. The 500th woman to be elected to public office.
23.?The 500th drug addict to be given an opportunity to overcome his substance dependence without being stricken with unnecessary jail time.
24. The 500th family whose house isn’t taken from them because their bank rewards its employees for every foreclosure.
25. The 500th child of an immigrant family to attend college or serve in the military under the DREAM Act.
26. The 500th college professor to successfully acquire funding for research without Rick Perry and the Texas Public Policy Foundation scrutinizing her every move.
27. The 500th teenager to have access to after-school programs that encourage him to stay off the streets.
28. The 500th CEO to refuse a salary 300 times that of his lowest-paid worker.
29. The 500th diabetic to gain affordable health coverage even though he suffers from a preexisting condition.
30. The 500th desperate person to finally find peace within herself, giving her strength to not commit a felony.
~What are some other “500th” milestones Texas should be recognizing instead of executions?
(Many thanks to Karissa Royster and Shaina Rubenstein for the great ideas.)
Edited and published by WP