For the 500th time since reinstituting the death penalty in 1982, Texas executed an inmate last week.
Her name was Kimberly McCarthy, 52, who murdered her 71-year-old neighbor during a 1997 robbery.
Two other killings are said to have been linked to McCarthy, who became the third female in three years to be executed in this country.
According to The Associated Press, there have been more than 1,300 executions in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. About 40 percent of the executions have been in Texas. Thirty-two states have approved capital punishment.
It's barbaric and tragically symbolic of our violent nation.
The eye-for-an-eye mentality that dates back to the beginning of civilization may be understandable on a personal level, but the death penalty hasn't proven to be a deterrent. And there is always the possibility of wrongful convictions in our imperfect justice system.
"Hundreds of people have been released from death row after being found innocent of the crime for which they were convicted," says the American Civil Liberties Union. "For others, serious doubts about their guilt didn't come to light until it was too late. We cannot risk executing even one innocent person."
The ACLU also cites concerns about poor legal counsel, faulty scientific evidence, racial bias and protection of the mentally ill.
"The American Civil Liberties Union believes the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law," its website says. "Furthermore, we hold that the state should not arrogate unto itself the right to kill human beings — especially when it kills with premeditation and ceremony, in the name of the law or in the name of its people, or when it does so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion."
Execution is an easier way out for those who commit capital crimes than life behind bars without the possibility of parole. It's also more expensive than the inevitably costly legal process associated with capital punishment.
State-sanctioned murder does little more than feed into our country's culture of violence.