Rick Perry on Crime

Republican Governor (TX)


Death penalty is appropriate for those who kill cops or kids

Q: You've got 273 people on death row in Texas. After what happened in Oklahoma [a botched execution where the lethal injection failed], do you expect more challenges?

GOV. RICK PERRY: Well, state by state those decisions are made about how you're going to punish those who commit the most heinous crimes against your citizens. And in Texas, for a substantially long period of time, our citizens have decided that if you kill our children, if you kill our police officers, for those very heinous crimes, that the appropriate punishment is the death penalty. I think we have an appropriate process in place, from the standpoint of the appeals process, to make sure that due process is addressed. And the process of the actual execution I would suggest to you is very different from Oklahoma. We only use one drug. But I'm confident that the way that the executions are taken care of in the state of Texas are appropriate.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 4, 2014

Don't apply one-size-fits-all to state's death penalties

Q: Was the failed execution in Oklahoma inhumane?

PERRY: I don't know whether it was inhumane or not, but it was botched.

Q: But you don't even want to see the government held responsible for forcing a heart attack because they couldn't inject the proper lethal drugs?

PERRY: There is an appropriate way to deal with this. And obviously, something went terribly wrong.

Q: Is it appropriate for a pause in our national discussion and application of the death penalty, the president talking about bias, uneven application, soul-searching questions that he'd like the country to take. Do you agree with that?

PERRY: It may be appropriate for a pause in Oklahoma. But the president all too often, whether it's on health care or whether it's on education or whether it's on this issue of how states deal with the death penalty, he looks for a one-size-fits-all solution centric to Washington D.C. And I will suggest, that's one of the problems we have in this country. We're a very diverse country.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 4, 2014

International treaties shouldn't hinder Texas executions

Edgar Arias Tamayo, 46, was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of a Houston police officer. Tamayo was not informed of his right to contact the Mexican consulate for assistance, as required under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, an international treaty to which the US is a party. Tamayo's lawyers asked for a 30-day reprieve of Tamayo's execution. And Secretary of State John Kerry has written to Perry arguing that the execution of Tamayo could harm US-Mexico relations, as well as jeopardize the right of Americans to contact their consular officials if arrested abroad.

These arguments [did not] sway Perry, who on previous occasions refused to halt the executions of Mexican nationals whose consular rights were denied. Perry positions himself as a defender of Texas law against international law, and he has US Supreme Court decisions on his side, notably a 2008 ruling that treaties cannot be enforced in state courts without a specific federal law implementing them.

Source: Human Rights Watch 2014 coverage: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 17, 2014

I think our justice system is color blind

Q: What do you make of the Zimmerman verdict [where a white vigilante was exonerated of killing a black teenager]?

PERRY: Without a doubt, a tragic event. The jury made the decision. And although there maybe people on either side of this that don't agree with how it came out, the fact is that we have the best judicial system in the world and we respect it. A very thoughtful case was made by each side, the jurors made the decision, and we will live with that.

Q: Critics have said that the justice system is innately racist, is unfair to African-Americans. Do you think that?

PERRY: I don't. I think our justice system is color blind, and I think that you don't find people that always agree with the jury's decision. The system may not be foolproof; you have that appellate process, but in this case, I will suggest that two very capable teams laid out the issues and that jury made the right decision from their standpoint.

Source: CNN SOTU 2013 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 14, 2013

If you kill a TX citizen, you will face ultimate justice

Q: Your state has executed 234 death row inmates. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?

PERRY: No, sir. I've never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place--when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the US, if that's required But in the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you're involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be executed.

Q: Why do you think the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?

PERRY: I think Americans understand justice. I think Americans are clearly, in the vast majority of cases, supportive of capital punishment.

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

Life without parole for certain repeat sex offenders

The pursuit of true stability and security also requires us to maintain law and order and keep our citizens safe. Last fall, I proposed legislation targeting sex offenders, to better protect our citizens. We should empower prosecutors to seek life without parole for certain repeat sex offenders, and requiring active GPS monitoring of high risk offenders for three years after they've done their time and been released by TDCJ.
Source: 2011 Texas State of the State Address , Feb 8, 2011

States know best on punishment; federalism is arrogance

The states know best how they wish to punish criminals and for what crimes. Are we perfect? No. In Texas, we have been working diligently to advance the use if DNA and to make sure we have as many safeguards as are prudent to ensure the integrity of that system. But our system works very well, and for Washington to step in and tell us whether it is right to execute a heinous criminal--or tell us how to carry out justice--is the height of arrogance and disregards federalism at its most basic level.
Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p.101-102 , Nov 15, 2010

Death penalty for aggravated rape

The people are forced to check their view of what should be an appropriate punishment with the Supreme Court case of "Kennedy v. Louisiana", which involved a sentence of death for a man convicted of rape. This case demonstrates just how out of touch with America the Court truly is.

Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to death not just for rape, but for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter. The little girl suffered massive trauma to her genital area. The injuries were so severe that she required emergency invasive surgery to attempt to repair the damage.

Kennedy refused a plea deal that would have taken the death penalty off the table. He was then convicted under a 1995 statute that provided for the death penalty for anyone convicted of raping a child under 12.

A jury of his peers sentenced him to death, and Kennedy appealed to the Supreme Court. Texas supported Louisiana. The Court ruled the law unconstitutional, citing the prohibition in the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p. 99-100 , Nov 15, 2010

Amachi program: break up generational cycle of incarceration

Perhaps no student population is at greater risk than the children of prisoners. 70% are destined to follow a parent's path behind bars if no one intervenes. This is a national tragedy. We must break up the generational cycle of incarceration. That is wh Texas was the first state to offer a statewide grant for the Amachi program administered by Big Brothers/Big Sisters, which mentors the children of prisoners. For the sake of these children, I ask you to continue funding this important program.
Source: Texas 2007 State of the State address , Feb 6, 2007

Tough and smart: jail sexual offenders; release non-violent

When it comes to criminal justice, I believe we can take an approach to crime that is both tough and smart. I agree with our Lieutenant Governor that sexual offenders who harm our children must face tougher penalties. At the same time, there are thousands of non-violent offenders in the system whose future we cannot ignore. Let's focus more resources on rehabilitating those offenders so we can ultimately spend less money locking them up again.
Source: Texas 2007 State of the State address , Feb 6, 2007

Executes Mexican citizen despite plea from Pres. Fox

Mexican citizen Javier Suarez Medina died by lethal injection on Wednesday for the 1988 murder of a Dallas narcotics officer in an execution his president tried to stop. Suarez, 33, was put to death after the US Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from Mexico and Gov. Rick Perry refused Mexican President Vicente Fox ‘s request for a reprieve.

He was executed for shooting and killing undercover police officer Lawrence Cadena, 43, during a buy-and-bust drug sting. Mexico sought a stay from the Supreme Court on grounds that Suarez’s rights were violated because he was not put in contact with the Mexican consulate in Dallas at the time of his arrest, as required under the Vienna Convention diplomatic treaty. The court rejected the appeal shortly before Suarez was put to death. Fox pleaded with his friend President Bush and with Perry to stop the execution. Perry denied Suarez’s request for a one-time, 30-day stay of execution.

Source: Reuters, on www.santegidio.org , Aug 15, 2002

Vetoes ban on execution of mentally retarded inmates

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill to ban the execution of mentally retarded death row inmates, saying the state already has numerous safeguards in place to protect them. “This legislation is not about whether to execute mentally retarded murderers,” Perry said. “It is about who determines whether a defendant is mentally retarded in the Texas justice system.”

The bill would have allowed a jury to determine during the trial’s punishment phase whether a defendant is mentally retarded. If so, the person would be sentenced only to life in prison.

Existing law takes into account whether a defendant is competent to stand trial, including whether the defendant can aid his own defense and whether a defendant was insane when the crime was committed. Prosecutors say those factors, and the fact that a jury can consider retardation as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing, are sufficient.

Source: CBS News.com coverage of Texas Voting Records for HB 236 , Jun 17, 2002

Supports DNA testing; standards for capital defenders

    Governor Rick Perry?s proposals about capital punishment:
  1. Proposed DNA testing for cases where it can shed light on a person?s guilt or innocence. Pledged financial assistance to local police and medical examiners in this regard.
  2. Improve the quality of defense counsel for trials. Statewide standards for selecting defense lawyers, including a minimum level of experience in handling criminal felony trials.
  3. Give juries the option of sentencing capital defendants to prison for the rest of their lives, without parole, rather than executing them.
Governor Perry?s proposals recognize that Texas desperately needs to introduce rationality and fairness to a system that is out of control, and which has a high risk of executing innocent people.
Source: TexasCivilRightsProject.org, Op-Ed , Jan 25, 2001

Supports flexible federal block grants for crime programs.

Perry adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

NGA’s Position

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA10 on Sep 14, 2001

Zero tolerance for violence against government employees.

Perry signed the Western Governors' Association resolution:

  1. America’s communities, schools and workplaces are the building blocks of our peaceful and productive society.
  2. It is the obligation of governments to ensure citizens and visitors in our nation are protected from violence and do not feel threatened by it.
  3. Employees of the federal, state and local governments, including public land managers, are sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge the duties of their offices. Government employees are working men and women with families who, as our neighbors, contribute to the communities in which they live.
  1. Western Governors unequivocally endorse a zero tolerance for violence throughout our society. We support the use of all legal authority to prevent violence.
  2. Western Governors unequivocally endorse a zero tolerance for violence directed specifically against government employees. The Western Governors express their appreciation for all of the contributions that government employees have made and continue to make to the states and communities in which they live.
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 07: Zero Tolerance for Violence 01-WGA07 on Aug 14, 2001

Supports capital punishment for certain crimes.

Perry supports the CC survey question on capital punishment

The Christian Coalition voter guide [is] one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections. This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.

The CC survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Capital punishment for certain crimes, such as first degree murder & terrorism"

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 10-CC-q8 on Aug 11, 2010

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