For the past week or so, I’ve been struggling with whether or not to write this post. I’m a little reluctant to put a very political post into a knitblog. Which is to say this will be a little more than What I Worked On This Week.
In the past week there have been 3 executions here in the US. In my state there is a discussion going on in at least one high-profile murder trial as to whether or not the death penalty will be imposed. In one case, Lawrence Brewer in Texas, there was no doubt at all as to the defendant’s guilt. In fact, he confessed to the crime several times. Up until the moment of his execution he apparently showed no remorse. Even after all that, members of his victim’s family asked for life without parole for Brewer instead of execution.
In another case, there was considerable doubt as to Troy Davis’ guilt in the 1993 murder of a Georgia police officer. Seven of the nine witnesses who testified against Davis recanted their testimonies and claimed police intimidation. Even after that, even after a huge, celebrity-filled campaign asking for a new trial and a commutation of his sentence, Troy Davis was executed on the same day as Lawrence Brewer; September 21, 2011. Until his death by lethal injection, Davis maintained his innocence.
Two days later, Alabama executed someone else. This week, 3 people were taken off of death row; 2 in North Carolina were exonerated, and 1 man was sentenced to 131 years in prison for second-degree murder (also in North Carolina).
There was also this lead editorial in Monday’s New York Times, calling for the abolition of the death penalty in the US.
When the Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty 35 years ago, it did so provisionally. Since then, it has sought to articulate legal standards for states to follow that would ensure the fair administration of capital punishment and avoid the arbitrariness and discrimination that had led it to strike down all state death penalty statutes in 1972.
As the unconscionable execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last week underscores, the court has failed because it is impossible to succeed at this task. The death penalty is grotesque and immoral and should be repealed.
I was pleased to see this from the Times. I feel that way myself. The death penalty, in my personal opinion, is nothing short of state-sponsored murder.
There are a lot of arguments in favor of the death penalty. It provides “closure” for a victim’s family. Personally, I couldn’t have closure until my murdered loved one leaped out of their grave, but that’s just me. It’s a deterrent. Can’t argue that one – an executed person will never kill again. As for its deterring anyone else…Some say it does (at least in Texas), some say it does not. It certainly stops the executed person from killing again…
The most frequent argument is that it “provides justice”. A certain kind of justice. Like the kind in Exodus 21:24. Google it.
To my fellow citizens who believe that the death penalty is the only form of justice befitting a capital crime, I have questions for you. To my religious neighbors: it is said that your God is the only and ultimate dispenser of justice. How can you set yourself and your state above your God? To my fellow nonbelievers: why are you so eager to embrace Bronze Age revenge as your “ultimate justice”? If you discount any holy book as being the only truth, why hold onto that part of a specific book?
The death penalty puts us in a select group of countries in the world. China, Yemen, North Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, among only a few others. I’ll leave it at that.
This concludes our rant for today, kids. See you tomorrow.