Not-so-famous Last Words of Executed Offenders in Texas

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Posted on Jul 24, 2015

In 1972 the Supreme Court of the United States suspended capital punishment on the grounds that the practice was being imposed unconstitutionally—violating the Bill of Rights’ eighth amendment which prohibits the federal government from (among other things) imposing “cruel and unusual punishment.” This clause and most provisions of the Bill of Rights have been incorporated and apply to states as well. In 1976, the Supreme Court reauthorized capital punishment but only for the crimes of murder and child rape (the latter later banned in 2008). The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has since published the last statements of executed offenders: https://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_executed_offenders.html. I decided to scrape this table and analyze the statements.

import requests
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
deathrow = requests.get('https://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_executed_offenders.html').text
stat = BeautifulSoup(deathrow)

#To obtain contents of each cell in the table:

Execution=[]
OffInfo=[]
LinkLS=[]
Last=[]
First=[]
Number=[]
Age=[]
Date=[]
Race=[]
County=[]
for i in tab.findAll('tr'):
    td = i.findAll('td')
    for s, p in enumerate(td):
        if s==0:
            Execution.append(p.text)
        if s==1:
            for l in p.findAll('a'):
                OffInfo.append(l.get('href'))
        if s==2:
            for l in p.findAll('a'):
                LinkLS.append(l.get('href'))
        if s==3:
            Last.append(p.text)
        if s==4:
            First.append(p.text)
        if s==5:
            Number.append(p.text)
        if s==6:
            Age.append(p.text)
        if s==7:
            Date.append(p.text)
        if s==8:
            Race.append(p.text)
        if s==9:
            County.append(p.text)

#To obtain statements from each link in the table:

root_url = "https://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/"

states = []

for link in LinkLS:
    obtain = requests.get(root_url+link)
    stat2 = BeautifulSoup(obtain.text)
    ps = stat2.find_all('p')
    temp = ""
    for i in range(6, len(ps)):
        temp = temp + ps[i].get_text()
    states.append(temp)

Since the reauthorization of capital punishment, 527 individuals have been executed in Texas, accounting for almost 40% of executions in the United States (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/number-executions-state-and-region-1976?scid=8&did=186). The analysis revealed:

  • 108 of 527 offenders declined to make a statement (about 20.5%).
  • Most last statements included messages of love and mention of family and friends. The longest statement, which also mentioned innocence, was made by Gary Lee Graham (aka Shaka Sankofa) and was incidentally a very high profile case (google either name).

senti

  • The average age of those executed was 39—a finding that surprised me as I expected the age to be older. Those executed young were often convicted of crimes they had committed when they were under the age of 18. In 2005, the Supreme Court abolished executions for individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.
  • ageplotGrouped by race, a disproportionate number are minorities. African Americans only make up 12.4% of the population of Texas (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html).

raceplot

yearplot

 

 

 

 

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