Whether those in the audience believe this or not, it’s likely the applause is more accurately read as support for capital punishment properly applied-both for its utility as a deterrent force and defense for civilized society, both ethical and moral roles of government.

The irony here is that while it’s true Perry, the nation’s longest serving governor, has presided over more executions than anyone in the modern era, the number of Texas death sentences have actually declined under Perry to historic lows. This is due to a number of factors, but key among them has been Perry’s decision to support allowing juries to consider life without parole as an alternative sentence, a bill he signed into law in 2005…

In the decade under Perry’s reforms, Texas has reduced its role as an outlier, coming more in line with national trends, with a more careful and sparing invocation of capital punishment. The death sentence is still used — as divisive as the capital punishment may be among some corners, the overwhelming majority of Americans support it — but with a much heavier emphasis on the need for multiple eyewitnesses and solid evidence.