By Mike Ward

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White called Thursday for Texas to abolish the death penalty, saying if elected governor he will work to erase the hallmark law that has fueled the nation's busiest death chamber in past decades.

Speaking with reporters after a candidate forum, White said he would commute the death sentences of condemned convicts, if given the chance, and would lobby the legislature to do away with the lethal injection law.

"It is a flawed system. It is not a deterrent. It does not work," White said after the forum sponsored by the Texas Tribune, an online news site. "The data says we put innocent people on death row. Our system needs to be changed."

White's late father, former Gov. Mark White, supported the death penalty while in office but in recent years became an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, due in part to death-row convicts who were proven innocent during appeals and amid growing questions about whether the system was a deterrent to crime as intended.

At least one other Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tom Wakely, has announced he will seek to abolish the death penalty -- a position taken by Democrats in the past, contrasting with Republicans' support of the death penalty.

During the forum, White also said he supports diverting the $800 million Texas spends for border security to education, and letting the federal government pick up the tab for securing the Texas border -- an about-face from current state policy.

(c)2018 the Houston Chronicle