Category Archives: Capital Punishment

I do not want his death

This is  guest post by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer Oget, associate professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Thank you Margaret for your words and witness and for allowing them to be shared here.

I know this is not popular, but I don’t want them to execute Dylann Roof.

First, it perpetuates the culture of violence and legitimates the utterly illegitimate system of state-sponsored execution. He becomes the monster who proves the rule.

Second, it treats him as though he is some extraordinary exception that can be rooted out, like a noxious weed, rather than a young adult radicalized by white racist Christianist terrorists intent at creating a race war. Cf. Girard: the Scapegoat

Third, it means he never has to grow up, face what he did, and explain it to himself and to us, aloud. He can die a martyr and never once look in the eyes of the children whose parents he killed, the parents whose children he killed, the parishioners whose pastor he killed, or the legislators whose colleague he killed.

No, I do not want his death. I want those who radicalized him — on trial — for murder. I want their ring dismantled. I want the connections between that ring and the larger structures of systemic racism to become so plain that every and any one can read it.

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Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

#danielonmymind

I have been remiss in posting about the death penalty. It is part of my privilege that I can “become too busy” or “have other things to do.” The reality is that I can choose to engage this issue or not. That’s a choice many of my sisters and brothers do not have.

Today, I choose engagement.

The State of Georgia has set April 27, 2016 as the date to execute Daniel Anthony Lucas. Lucas was convicted for the 1998 murder of eleven-year-old Bryan Moss, fifteen-year-old Kristin Moss, and their father Steven Moss. Two children and their father.

There seems little doubt as to his guilt. His crime is heinous. I cannot begin to imagine the grief and pain endured by those who love Bryan, Kristin, and Steven. My heart breaks for young lives ended too soon; my heart goes out to those who grieve.

But execution is not the answer. It will not restore Bryan, Kristin, and Steven.

Responding to killing with killing pays no honor to the person that Bryan, Kristin, and Steven were and might become.

Execution says more about us than it does about the person we execute. It lowers us to the level of those who kill.

Nothing justifies the murder of Bryan, Kristin, and Steven. But the execution of their killer is not the answer. Life imprisonment is.

The National Coalition against the Death Penalty suggests several actions we can take:

  • Contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and ask them to halt this execution: contact them via email at clemency_info@pap.state.ga.us, by tweet at @GA_ParoleBoard or by phone at (404) 656-4661. If you prefer to send a letter, here is their mailing address: State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.
  • Contact Gov. Nathan Deal to influence his Parole Board: While the parole board is the only entity that can grant clemency, its five members are appointed by the Governor. Contact Gov. Deal and urge him to intervene at Governor Nathan Deal, Office of the Governor, 203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. You can also contact him by phone at (404) 656-1776, via this link or by twitter@GovernorDeal.
  • If you live in Georgia, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Attend a vigil organized by the Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, around the scheduled execution.
  • Please share this information with your friends, especially those in Georgia, and ask them to help halt the execution of Mr. Lucas by taking one of the actions listed above.

It is time to end the death penalty.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Uncategorized

Decent people

I oppose the death penalty for a number of reasons. Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch, expressed one of the most important reasons in these terms:

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

 

 

Our position on the death penalty says as much about us and our characters as it does about the person and the character of the person facing the death penalty.

Brian, the wife of my friend Bruce Reyes-Chow,  was murdered at his place of work in 2008. In the wake of the execution of Kelly Gissendaner and the four executions (Richard Glossip’s execution was stayed until Nov. 6 due to questions about the lethal injection drug that would have been used) scheduled between now and October 7, Bruce shares some “Thoughts on the Death Penalty and Remembering Brian.” He writes in part:

We are that family who has lost a loved one and we do not believe that the death penalty is right, just, or humane. Did the killer of Brian extend the same compassion, justice, or humanity, no. Are there times when rage and sadness manifest themselves into wanting revenge, certainly. But we also know that responding to evil with evil, hate with hate, and murder with murder pays no honor to the person that Brian was or to the world that he hoped we would become.

So for the very reason that so many scream. “Death! Justice! Vengeance!” in honor of the person who has been lost, even in the midst of our own rage, sadness, and our own yearning for retribution, we plead, “Life! Compassion! Dignity!” in honor of the person we lost.

Our position on the death penalty says as much about us and our characters as it does about the person and the character of the person facing the death penalty.

I am honored that Bruce and his family have chosen to be friends with me.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Friends

A stay of execution for Richard Glossip

Ask Governor Fallin of Oklahoma to grant Richard Glossip a stay of execution. I signed a petition asking that tonight. You can too.

I agree with Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch:

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

I would also affirm:

I don’t oppose the death penalty because of what it says about the person being executed. I oppose the death penalty because of that it says about our society and about me.

And absolutely I believe:

I oppose the death penalty because human infallibility and the racism and classism endemic to our justice system make the it possible, maybe even likely, an innocent person will be executed.

Richard Glossip may be an innocent person. The state of Oklahoma plans to execute Richard on September 16. Sister Helen Prejean and many others believe he is innocent of the crime for which was convicted.

Early on January 7, 1997, Barry Van Treese, owner of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City was beaten to death with a baseball bat. It was a brutal, heinous crime. I grieve for Mr. Van Treese and those who loved him.

Richard Glossip was convicted of murder after Justin Sneed, the man who confessed to the killing, claimed Richard had hired him to do it, despite a ulack of evidence. Sneed got a life sentence in a medium-security prison, while the self-serving testimony that saved Sneed’s life sent Richard to death row.

The National Coalition against the Death Penalty notes there was no physical evidence to corroborate Sneed’s testimony against Richard. Sister Helen Prejean’s Ministry against the Death Penalty notes several reasons that Glossip should receive a stay of execution including the fact that he did not kill Barry Van Treese and the lack of evidence supporting the contention that Glossip had hired Sneed to do the killing. Learn more about the case from Sister Helen Prejean’s Ministry against the Death Penalty.

Other actions you might take, suggested by both Sister Helen Prejean’s ministry and the National Coalition against the Death Penalty:

  • Contact Gov. Mary Fallin and ask her to halt this execution: write her a letter at Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 212, Oklahoma City, OK 73105; call her at (405) 521-2342 or contact her by tweet at @GovMaryFallin.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Write to Richard. His address is: Richard E. Glossip, #267303, OSP, H-Unit, H-SW4-L, PO Box 97, McAlester, OK 74502. To make sure your letter reaches Richard, please include your full name and return mail address on the envelope. Also, do not include anything in the envelope other than your card or letter.

Join me in asking Governor Fallin of Oklahoma to grant Richard Glossip a stay of execution.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

Let the debate begin!

Amid the rulings issued in late June, including a ruling that affirmed marriage without regard to sexual orientation and a ruling supporting the Affordable Care Act, came a decision that the “use of midazolam as part of lethal injection protocols is constitutional.”

The ruling focused, not on the death penalty itself, but on the means of administrating the death penalty. As Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said:

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled that using a cocktail of illegal drugs, which has been proven to cause torture in the prisoners to whom it’s been administered, as a form of execution, is not ‘cruel or unusual’ punishment.”

A sign of hope came from the dissent of Justice Stephen Breyer in which he questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty and called for a renewed legal debate on the matter.

Such a debate is needed.

Reports of recent executions describe cruel and unusual circumstances.  Writing in Salon, Matthew Rosza describes three executions:

Dennis McGuire of Ohio, who took nearly 25 minutes to die after choking and struggling throughout the procedure; Clayton Lockett of Oklahoma, whose execution was halted 20 minutes into the procedure due to an issue with his vein, began writhing on the gurney, and took 43 minutes in total to die; and Joseph Wood of Arizona, who gasped and snorted for nearly two hours before his lethal injection finally ended his life.

Not only does the death penalty appear to fit the cruel and unusual criteria of the Constitution, practical concerns abound. It does not make us safer. It lowers us to the behavior of criminals. It makes executioners of us all. It runs the risk of executing an innocent person. And racial and class bias riddle the use of the sentence.

The time has come to end the practice of the death penalty. Let the debate proposed by Justice Breyer begin!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

Nebraska – 19

History occurred on May 27, 2015 as Nebraska became the 19th state to abolish the death penalty.

On May 20, 2015, the unicameral state legislature voted to repeal the death penalty. The governor, as promised, vetoed the repeal bill.

Seven days later, the legislature stood strong and voted to override Gov. Ricketts’ veto of the repeal bill by a vote of 30-19.

The action will be challenged in the courts and on the campaign trail.

But, for now and hopefully forever, the death penalty is gone in Nebraska.

19 and counting!

See you along the Trail.

 

 

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Decent people

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

I first saw this statement on Andrew Stroehlein‘s Twitter feed.  Doing some research, I learned that Stroehlein is European Media Director of Human Rights Watch. Based in Brussels, he oversees media outreach and strategy in Europe and West Africa, and advises on public advocacy via social media across the organization.

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

Executions say more about the character of the executioners than they do about the persons who are executed.

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

Amen!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty