A 52-year old woman is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Wednesday and that has sparked more debate over the death penalty and its use.

The execution today will be the 500th inmate that has been put to death in Texas since the 1970s. Texas executes far more of its inmates that any of the other states.

Barring any reprieve in the last hours or minutes, 52-year old Kimberly McCarthy, the former wife of a Black Panther, will be executed by lethal injection at 6:10 pm. McCarthy was found guilty for the killing of a woman who was 70-years old during a robbery in 1997.

While the crime McCarthy committed was notorious – she used a candelabra to beat and a butcher knife to fatally stab the retired professor – her death will bring additional attention because it will mark the state’s 500th execution.

Texas far and away leads the 34 states who have the death penalty. Virginia is second with just 110 executions since 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated at the federal level. Oklahoma has the third most with 104 and Florida the fourth with 77.

Since 1976, Texas has had 12 exonerations from death row, while one advocacy group said that at least 5 offenders who were executed were suspected strongly of being not guilty.

A victim and death penalty advocate in Houston said the death penalty deters a portion of the criminal population and more importantly is fair justice for the victims’ families. He said that murderers who are executed do not murder or harm again.

Close to two-thirds of the people in Texas, support the death penalty.

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