Texas' 500th Execution: Kimberly McCarthy to Face Death Wednesday

Texas will hit a grim landmark Wednesday that for someone is a reminder that the death penalty is far from dead in some states.

The execution of Kimberly McCarthy has already been marked as a rare event. The 51-year-old, found guilty of stabbing her 71-year-old neighbor to death, will become the 13th woman executed since 1776. The last woman executed in Texas was killed over two years ago. McCarthy's execution will also set a different landmark. She will become the 500th convicted killer to receive a lethal injection in the state of Texas.

Over 1,300 executions have been carried since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Of those, 499 executions were carried out in Texas alone. Texas is not the only state that allows for capital punishment; the death penalty exist on the books in 32 other states.

For some, the punishment fits crime.

"I think our process works just fine," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said last year during his unsuccessful presidential campaign. "You may not agree with them, but we believe in our form of justice. … We think it is clearly appropriate."

Texas has accounted for 40 percent of death sentences issued since the Supreme Court's clarification of death penalty laws in 1977. In a distant second is Virginia, which is about 400 executions short.

"It's a very fragile system," said former Texas attorney and governor Mark White in an interview with the Associated Press. "There's a big difference between fair and harsh. ... I think you have (Texas) getting a reputation for being bloodthirsty, and that's not good."

However, Texas progressively changed and added new laws to offer more protections and fairer sentences to convicted prisoners. Those measures include a bill to allow post-conviction DNA testing for inmates. New minimum qualifications were also set for court-appointed defense attorneys.