A gloved hand holding a syringe. © Amnesty International

USA: Texas man executed based on faulty theory

Quintin Jones, a black man, was executed on 19 May 2021. He was on death row in Texas, USA in connection with a murder in 1999 when he was just 20 years old. His execution is a reminder that we must all stand strong against the death penalty, an ultimate violation of human rights.

The sentencing jury was presented with a since discredited theory regarding his “future dangerousness”, which proved to be a key factor leading to his death sentence. His first postconviction attorney filed both the state habeas application and federal habeas petition late, which prevented meaningful review of his case. The victim’s sister and great-nephew called for clemency for Jones. Unfortunately, Texas authorities denied that request.

The faults in Jones’ trial underlines the problems with the death penalty. It is irreversible and mistakes happen. Execution is the ultimate, irrevocable punishment: the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 184 prisoners sent to death row in the USA have later been exonerated or released from death row on grounds of innocence. Others have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt.

Amnesty International Australia has written to the Australian government asking Foreign Minister Marise Payne to continue her advocacy to urge the Biden Administration to end the death penalty.