The Death Penalty & The Dallas County District Attorney: An Encounter

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*A recreation of a public question and answer dialogue I had with Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk at her town hall last night.

JH: Good evening, my name is Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood and I serve on the Board of Directors of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. We have talked about a number of issues involving race tonight and I wanted to ask you specifically about the death penalty. With persons of color much more likely to receive the death penalty than anyone else…isn’t it time to abolish the death penalty?


SH: My office has completely changed the way that death penalty cases are handled. We take death penalty cases very seriously.


JH: There is no question that there has been improvement in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office since you took office but there is also no question that the death penalty is still on the table for you. These cases are unbelievably expensive to try. If someone murders five people in most counties in this state they are not going to get the death penalty because the counties can’t afford to try the case. Why don’t we take the option of the death penalty off the table and save the taxpayers an enormous amount of money? Will you commit to an impartial study that looks at the functioning of the death penalty in Dallas County?


SH: I cannot do that. The death penalty is the law. I will however add this…are you aware that we have not pursued a single death penalty case since I have been in office?


JH: I am and make no mistake….I’m going to pray everyday that is stays that way. Thank you for your time District Attorney.




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