Texas Department of Criminal Justice
When Harvey Stewart first went to prison 60 years ago, gasoline was 20 cents a gallon, a postage stamp cost three pennies and Harry Truman was president.
Thirty-nine men in identical white uniforms bowed their heads, sang, laughed, clapped, cheered and prayed as they were formally installed Monday as the state’s first class of seminarians behind prison walls.
Behind the razor wire-topped fences of Ferguson prison and other Texas penitentiaries are 5,205 inmates branded the baddest of the bad — dubbed so devious they are locked in one-man cells for 23 hours a day often for decades.
Texas State Senator John Whitmire calls it the most unusual phone call of his life. “Nothing shocks me anymore, but this would probably take first prize for the biggest, unbelievable story,” said the Senator from Houston. “No Texan should have to worry about getting a call from an inmate.”
Cleve Foster says he’s not afraid to die — but he doesn’t want to be a guinea pig. Foster would be the first Texas inmate executed with a new drug in the nation’s busiest death penalty state if his lethal injection scheduled for Tuesday evening is carried out in Huntsville.
A North Texas man convicted in the 1998 torture-slaying of a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman apologized profusely Tuesday just minutes before he was executed, exactly 13 years after the murder.
Before DNA tests proved his innocence, Ronald Taylor spent more than 14 years in prison for a Houston rape he did not commit.
A spokeswoman for the Dallas County Sheriff’s office says the longest-serving prisoner on Texas’ death row has died of natural causes in the county jail.