As I write this post, the 999th execution is probably taking place. John Hicks was scheduled to die at 10:00 eastern time, this morning, in Ohio. Tomorrow night, Robin Lovitt is scheduled to be executed at 9 p.m. (eastern) in Virginia. It's an eerie and disturbing thought that someone is being executed, in my name, right this minute.
For Robin Lovitt, the case against him is acknowledged to be weak and the evidence circumstantial. The DNA evidence that might -or might not, I suppose- have exonerated him was accidentally destroyed by a court clerk. Two eye witnesses to the crime couldn't identify him. There are no fingerprints linking him to the crime scene. The primary person linking Lovitt to the crime was a fellow inmate.
John Hicks presents a more ambiguous case. A cocaine and alcohol addict, he admits to murdering his step-daughter and his mother-in-law as part of a convoluted plan to get money for more drugs. The murder of his step-daughter was particularly brutal. Yet, the jury was not informed that intoxication may be considered as a mitigating factor for premeditation -and premeditation is important if a death sentence is to be imposed. There's also a mental health diagnosis which might preclude the possibility of premeditation. Moreover, the jury was told that the decision of whether or not to impose the death penalty resides with the judge, which strictly speaking, isn't true. So, guilty? Apparently,yes. Fairly tried and deserving the death penalty? Obviously, this is a moral decision on my part, and people are free to disagree with me. But I vote no.
I don't want to minimize the pain that these people (may have) caused. My mind reels at the thought of having to deal with the murder of a loved one. I've watched friends have to deal with that -and deal with it gracefully and beautifully, I might add. But I'm not at all sure how they pulled it off. For that matter, I'm not at all sure how they manage to get up in the morning.
But I am sure that, were I to be the one killed, I wouldn't want the killer to be killed as well. I can say with certainty that adding to the death toll would not be what I want. It's a step toward truly disarming my heart, I suppose.
In the meantime, if you're so inclined, here's a link to Sr. Helen Prejean's prayer for the night of executions: Prayer for Peace.
If you want to take more politically-oriented action, try this link: 1000 Executions.
If what you're really interested in is prison reform, try this: Prison Reform.