Texas Bans Chaplains from Being Present in Execution Chambers for Prison Inmates

Texas implemented a ban on chaplains being present in execution chambers for condemned inmates in response to two high-profile court cases on the issue.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for a Buddhist inmate who was prohibited from having a chaplain of his choosing in the chamber.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told the Texas Tribune that the ban was to take effect immediately.

“TDCJ Chaplain(s) will continue to be available to an offender until they are transferred to the execution chamber. The chaplain will also be present in the viewing room if requested,” explained the spokesperson.

Late last month, the Supreme Court halted the execution of 57-year-old Patrick Murphy, a Buddhist who had been sentenced to death for his involvement in a prison escape that resulted in a murder of a police officer.

At issue was Murphy’s denied request to have a Buddhist spiritual adviser present with him in the execution chamber, even though Christian and Muslim chaplains were permitted to be present.

In a concurring opinion, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas had two options to resolve the constitutionally problematic policy.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski