[JURIST] Convicted rapist and murderer Karl Eugene Chamberlain [State of Texas profile] was executed by lethal injection at a Texas prison Wednesday evening. His death marked the state's first execution since the US Supreme Court's April ruling in Baze v. Rees [opinion, PDF], in which the Court held that execution by lethal injection did not violate the Eight Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Texas has the highest execution rate [AP report] of all US states. Since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment in 1976, 406 inmates have been executed in the state. AP has more. The Huntsville Item has local coverage.
Earlier this month, a Texas appeals judge announced the creation of an oversight committee to evaluate and improve the state's criminal justice system, including its execution procedures. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) [advocacy website], there were 42 executions in the US last year, 26 of which took place in Texas. Texas was also at the center of an international controversy over the death penalty when a court in the state set August 5 [JURIST report] as the execution date for a Mexican national incarcerated in Texas. The US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that President Bush did not have the authority to direct state courts to comply with an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that attempted to grant review of such cases. Mexico has since asked the ICJ to enjoin execution of its citizens [JURIST report] in the US until it can determine obligations under the ruling.