Human Rights Watch called today on the state of Texas to commute the death sentence of Gerald Lee Mitchell, convicted of murder at the age of seventeen. Mitchell's execution is scheduled for Monday.
"Death is an inhumane punishment, particularly for someone who was a teenager at the time of his crime," said Michael Bochenek, counsel to the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. "Nearly every country recognizes this fact; Texas should, too."
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty. Additionally, under international law, capital punishment may not be imposed for crimes committed below the age of eighteen.
If his death sentence is carried out, Mitchell will be the eighteenth juvenile offender executed nationwide and the tenth in Texas since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Outside of the United States, only the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran are known to have executed juvenile offenders in the last three years.
In August, Napoleon Beazley, another juvenile offender on Texas' death row, came within hours of execution before he received a stay from the state's highest criminal court.