AUSTIN, Texas (BP) -- After the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to a Buddhist prisoner in Texas, the state moved to restrict the religious exercise of all death row inmates. Chaplains can now watch executions from the viewing room, but they will no longer be allowed to accompany condemned prisoners to their deaths, the state announced last week.
Previously, Texas law only allowed chaplains who had gone through extensive vetting to attend executions. Only Christian or Muslim chaplains were available at the time Patrick Henry Murphy was scheduled to be put to death in March. Murphy, 57, escaped from a Texas prison in 2000 with several other inmates and committed a burglary during which a police officer was shot and killed. While on death row for that offense, Murphy became a Buddhist and asked for his spiritual adviser to attend his execution. Read More