Certain crimes are punishable by the strictest penalties in Texas and other states across the nation. The death penalty is the most severe punishment that can be meted out, and as a result it is relegated to only the most heinous crimes imaginable.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, capital punishment is currently allowed in certain states. Texas is among the states that have the largest number of prisoners on death row, which in 2013 included 2,979 total prisoners throughout the United States. In states where the death penalty was deemed illegal, it is still possible to be put to death. This is due to the fact that the repeal of death penalty laws was not retroactively applied, meaning that prisoners already sentenced to death would still have their sentences carried out. In the United States, hanging, standing before a firing squad, lethal injection, gas and electrocution have all been acceptable methods of execution.
There are a number of crimes that can incur the death penalty in Texas. A murder that occurs during a prison escape attempt is grounds for the death penalty, as is committing a murder while incarcerated. Murder for hire is also punishable by death, even if monetary gain is merely promised by another individual. The death penalty can also be levied when murder is committed while undertaking another crime (such as arson, aggravated sexual assault, robbery and many others).
As stated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the 35 states that permit the death penalty made lethal injection the preferred method of execution in 2013. The next year 35 prisoners were executed across seven states that deem capital punishment legal. This was slightly lower than the previous year, which saw a total of 39 executions.