They Went to Prison as Kids. Now They’re on Death Row.

 

The Marshall Project, February 2022

About Terence

Terence Andrus was born in the “Jefferson Davis Hospital” in Third Ward, one of Houston’s historic African-American communities formed not long after Emancipation. He grew up in the Third Ward, Fifth Ward, and Mission Bend neighborhoods.

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Terence now resides in Livingston, Texas on death row in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Polunsky Unit. He is incarcerated for causing the deaths of two individuals in a Kroger parking lot. The shootings took place in 2008 when he was twenty years-old during an attempted carjacking. He was high on marijuana laced with PCP at the time and panicked when the owner of a car he had approached pulled out his own gun.

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Terence is, however, much more than those data points. He is the second oldest of five kids born to a single mother who was still herself a kid when he was born. He always tried to serve as a caretaker for his siblings in chaotic times. But one terrible night, when his young life had spun out of control from drug addiction and despair, he caused unspeakable harm. Today he strives for a consciousness he never had the means to acquire when living hand-to-mouth in a community crippled by economic blight, under-resourced schools, zero positive role models, and a juvenile “justice” system that was punitive in the extreme. From middle school through the time when he was arrested for the offense that sent him to death row, he had spent most of his teenage years trapped in the school-to-prison pipeline. His first offense involved being caught at school with Xanax that his mother, who sold drugs out of the home, had left lying around.

He is now committed to being a “testament against the death penalty” by making art and forging interpersonal connections that prompt celebrating our common humanity.