Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Amnesty USA - Make Some Noise!
A major review of the death penalty around the world was recently released by Amnesty. The US is still up there with the likes of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia - these four countries account for 94% of executions worldwide. Government sponsored punitive killing is unjust and ineffective; is a cruel and unusual form of retribution and evidence has shown it doesn't have a substantial deterrent effect. Oh yeah, 121 death row inmates in the United States have been found innocent since 1973. The Supreme Court did determine that executing juvenile offenders was unconstitutional, ending the status of being the world leaders in that department. It's a step...
"Oh well, it makes us feel better!" I suppose that and religious or political justifications are at the core of capital punishment.
Your photo reminds me of something we say in Italy about our men: "The only reason they would put a woman on a pedestal is so they could look up her skirt!"
Trust you’re invigorated by your involvement with such a worthy cause among all those seasoned campaigners. In fact one day I would like to join you ……but for the time being I’m with you in that Amnesty spirit.
In both cases, I always encourage people to imagine how they would feel if they were faced with either one. What if it was your child on death row? What if it was your pregnant teenage daughter? I wonder if you would feel the same way...
Anyway, I am always stunned by the ease at which a person can turn away from another in need, or someone in pain (no matter where on this earth they are), or commit the ulimate - decide if that person is to live or die. I do not pocess the power to do any of these.
I signed the amnesty international petition, and the anti-death penality one as well. sorry I can't get to portland - I wish you well.
Like Nova, I'm conflicted about the death penalty. I believe that most people can be rehabilitated, they just need to be treated with respect (which is understandably difficult to give to an inmate), humanity (see note above) and sympathy. Many serial murderers, rapists, etc. come from struggle and difficult beginnings. At some point, they weren't taught or refused to learn the basic principles of humanity and morality. With time and patience, perhaps they could.
And as Cassandra pointed out, many of our Republican friends (W. included, didn't he set a record for capital punishment) are pro-deathy penalty and anti-abortion. Sanctity of life what?
Q: What percentage of those executed in the US could not afford legal support?
So it's about race, money and class more than about justice - and as pointed out, we know that innocent people have been executed.
If it were a deterrent, why does America have a murder rate 10 times that of Canada (with no death penalty)? As far as the WWJD crowd, I'm pretty sure Jesus (if he existed and dropped in today) would be forgiving more than injecting or electrocuting...
Rehabilitation is possible sometimes (as Lauren points out), but even if someone is imprisoned for life, it's better than executions.
The day before they killed him we were allowed to visit him (no contact, ofcourse) and on the execution day he was allowed to phone us at the sanctuary for families. After over a decade on death row he had matured into a strapping young man and was no longer the brash youngster he had been. And he still professed love for his wife, who had gone off with another man right after his arrest, and asked us to give her his love message. Families never believe that their loved one is guilty but I strongly suspect that his wife was the guilty party and he covered for her, because he spent the entire weekend at my home during the time the crime was committed. But authorities always think families are lying so us providing an alibi was discounted, especially after he accepted the guilt.
As he lay strapped to the gurney he was allowed some last words. He expressed his love for all of us and ended his statement with "tell her I love her and I forgive her ." Forgive her? For what? He never bore her any animosity for taking a lover so soon after the tragedy. He had said, "she's young, it's only natural and right for her to go on with her life, because I'll never be free." His death bed declaration of forgiveness made us even more suspicious of her guilt, but if he was covering for her he took it to his grave.
Years later she visited us and was babbling on, started saying something and sudddenly caught herself, looked around like a deer caught in headlights, stammered and said, "I mean..." and quickly ended her visit. Her incomplete statement indicated guilty knowledge of some sort. We will never know if Texas executed the wrong person or not.
I have to say that all the death row guards that knew him during the decade-plus time he was there liked him and told us he didn't belong there, he was not a killer. And those guards are very savvy about the criminals they interact with every day. They are not easily fooled.
It sounds like he may well have been innocent, but this awful system will never discover that. This is a heartbreaking story that any grandparent or parent would grieve to hear.
May your memories be of the good times and the fine courage.
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