Tag Archives: Georgia

#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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Stop the execution of Kelly Gissendaner

The state of Georgia should not execute Kelly Gissendaner on Monday, 2 March as currently scheduled. Tell Governor Nathan Deal to stop the execution.

The state of Georgia should not execute Kelly Gissendaner because:

  • while she asked someone to kill her husband, she did not kill him;
  • the person who killed Doug Gissendaner does not face a possible execution for his actions;
  • she has repented of her role in her husband’s murder;
  • she has been rehabilitated in secular terms; transformed by God in theological terms;
  • she has demonstrated that transformation in her living;
  • she has ministered to other inmates, serving as a “calming spirit”; and
  • inmates report on her role in their lives, including several who she helped as they contemplated suicide.

For all these reasons, the state of Georgia should not execute Kelly Grissendaner.

But, even if none of these reasons existed, her execution should not take place.

The execution of Kelly Grissendaner, or of any other child of God, demeans the state. It lowers the state to the level of those who kill. At the same time, it places the state in the position of God, making life and death decision. And, to paraphrase Dean Smith, state executions, in a democracy, make murderers of us all.

The state of Georgia should not execute Kelly Gissendaner on Monday, 2 March as currently scheduled or at any other time. Tell Governor Nathan Deal to stop the execution.

See you along the Trail.

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The death penalty

Like a middle manager
he sympathetically consults,
“There is really nothing
that I can do.”
This he smilingly says
as he pulls levers
and moves the gears
of the thousand ton machine.

“My hands are really tied”
and you would swear
a tear swells in the corner
of his aged lids.
His sad resignation
almost masks pudgy fingers
sliding and pushing buttons.

Brian Merrit, Evangelist and Founder of Mercy Junction of Chattanooga, and my friend, wrote this as he reflected on the impending execution of Kelly Gissendaner by the state of Georgia.

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1 stayed; 1 scheduled

1 stayed

Amnesty International reports that:

A judge in Georgia has granted Warren Hill a temporary stay of execution to consider a lethal injection question. A petition is still pending before the US Supreme Court on the claim that Warren Hill has “mental retardation” and that his execution would therefore violate the US Constitution. The execution warrant does not expire until noon on 20 July.

Shortly before the execution was to be carried out on July 15, the stay was issued. The hearing is to be held on July 18. If the stay is lifted before the execution warrant expires at noon on July 20, the state could conduct the execution.

1 scheduled

John M. Quintilla, Jr. is scheduled to be executed today in Texas. The execution may have already taken place. I am having trouble finding information. Quintilla was convicted of killing Victor Billings, a former sheriff’s deputy, in a robbery turned violent. Reports are that, along with two others, Quintilla “entered an action amusement center through a partially opened back door, demanded cash from an employee and advised all other patrons to get down on the floor. An adult white male [Victor Billings] attempted to disarm Quintanilla and was fatally shot three times. A second victim, and adult white female, was also shot, but the injury was not fatal.”

My prayers for those who loved Victor Billings and Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike. There can be no defense or justification of their murders.

But the execution of those who commit such acts is not the answer. It feeds the cycle of violence. There has to be a better way.

See you along the Trail.

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Last hope to stop execution of Warren Hill

Georgia has set an execution date of 15 July for Warren Lee Hill, Jr. This is not the first time that a date has been set.

Stays have been granted on previous occasions. Questions focus on his mental capacity.

Amnesty International reports that experts who have assessed Hill now say that he has ‘mental retardation’, which would make his
execution unconstitutional. His lawyers are asking the US Supreme Court to step in.

Hill was serving time for the murder of his girl friend, Myra Wright, when he was convicted of killing Joseph Handspike, another inmate, and sentenced to death. There is no question of his guilt.

The question in this case, beyond those in any execution, revolves around Hill’s mental capacity. His IQ is reported to be 70. This raises the question of his mental capacity and his awareness to understand his acts.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of capacity in the 2002 decision Atkins. v. VirginiaThe American Psychological Association summarizes that decision as follows:

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that executions of mentally retarded criminals are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. The Court cited the growing number of states prohibiting the execution of persons with mental retardation as a reflection of society’s view that offenders considered to have mental retardation are categorically less culpable than the average criminal. The Court also reasoned that it was “not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty.”

However, Georgia has a high standard of proof for proving mental retardation: the standard of proving mental incapacitation beyond a reasonable doubt. Georgia does not believe that standard has been met in Hill’s case.

Amnesty International notes that Hill’s lawyers are asking the US Supreme Court to stop the execution. Several US law professors have filed a brief arguing that this is a case in which the Court should take this unusual step of exercising the Court’s power to consider “original habeas petitions” (in exceptional circumstances to take a case brought directly to it rather than on appeal from a lower court).

Amnesty International asks that those concerned about this case write immediately – before 15 July – to the Attorney General of Georgia. Letters should:

  • Note that  all seven experts who have assessed Warren Hill now agree that he has mental retardation, which would render his execution unconstitutional; and
  • ask the Attorney General to concede this and to support the petition for Supreme Court intervention.

The Honorable Sam Olens, Attorney General of Georgia
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334, USA
Fax: +1 404 657 8733
Email: AGOlens@law.ga.gov
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

Copies of the letter should go to:
Governor Nathan Deal
Georgia State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334, USA
Fax: +1 404 657 7332
Email: http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-domestic-form

I grieve for Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike and for their family and friends.  There can be no defense for Hill’s crimes.

But that is not all the story. What does it say about our society – about us – that we resort to execution in the case of an individual with the mental capacity and awareness of Hill? Can we not find another way?

See you along the Trail.

 

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Execution stayed

The Guardian reports that, for the second time in seven months, convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill, Jr. received a stay of execution in Georgia. In July, the stay came with some 90 minutes to spare. Tonight, reports indicate that only thirty minutes remained before the scheduled execution.

The Huffington Post states they have received the following from Brian Kammer, an attorney for Hill:

“We are greatly relieved that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Warren Hill, a person with mental retardation. All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation, so there is no question that his execution would have been in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia.”

A post on CNN further notes that

The Georgia Court of Appeals acted on an appeal of a challenge to the way the prison handles the lethal injection drugs used in executions, while the federal appeals court issued a stay “ordering a further briefing on the issue of mental retardation,” Kammer said.

It remains to see what will happen as the issues that provided the basis for the stays are explored.

I grieve for Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike who were killed by Warren Lee Hill, Jr., and for their family and friends.  There is no defense for his crimes.

But … The Guardian lists ten reasons not to execute Hill.. One notes that the family of Joseph Handspike opposes the execution. One cites international law. The other reasons explore dimensions of the questions related on Hill’s mental capacity. I agree with them all.

I further believe that violence begets violence. Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. They serve little purpose beyond vengeance. We have alternatives to protecting our society.

See you along the Trail.

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Can we seek another way?

An execution always raises questions of morality.

Brutal, horrific crimes that violate our sisters and brothers do so as well.

But when the state kills – on behalf of we the people who are the state – is it a matter of justice? Or revenge? Is it an act of retribution? And is that the best we can do? Do executions make us safer? Do they convey the message that violence is the most appropriate answer to violence? Do they demean us all and fuel a cycle of violence?

The pending execution of Warren Lee Hill, Jr., currently scheduled for February 19 in Georgia, raises all these questions and more.

Hill was serving time for the murder of his girl friend when he was convicted of killing another inmate and sentenced to death. There is no question of his guilt.

The question in this case, beyond those in any execution, revolve around Hill’s mental capacity. His IQ is reported to be 70. This raises the question of his mental capacity and his awareness to understand his acts.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of capacity in the 2002 decision Atkins. v. VirginiaThe American Psychological Association summarizes that decision as follows:

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that executions of mentally retarded criminals are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. The Court cited the growing number of states prohibiting the execution of persons with mental retardation as a reflection of society’s view that offenders considered to have mental retardation are categorically less culpable than the average criminal. The Court also reasoned that it was “not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty.”

However, Georgia has a high standard of proof for proving mental retardation: the standard of proving mental incapacitation beyond a reasonable doubt. Georgia does not believe that standard has been met in Hill’s case.

His attorney and those concerned for Hill are not seeking a pardon. They ask that he be granted clemency and incarcerated for life. The U.S. Supreme Court could prevent Hill’s execution in the next few days.

I grieve for Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike who were killed by Warren Lee Hill, Jr. and for their family and friends.  There can be no defense for Hill’s crimes.

But that is not all the story. What does it say about our society – about us – that we resort to execution in the case of an individual with the mental capacity and awareness of Hill? Can we not find another way?

See you along the Trail.

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