On July 14, William Downs is scheduled to be executed in South Carolina. He pled guilty to the rape and murder of a 6-year-old boy, in 2002. The idea of a 6-year-old suffering like that just makes me want to spit nails.
But here's the thing. William Downs tried to commit suicide while in pre-trial custody. He waived his right to a jury trial (in a capital case!) and refused to allow his lawyer to present mitigating evidence. He was found to be "guilty but mentally ill", which in South Carolina does not preclude the possibility of execution.
Can we really execute the mentally ill? Really???? And still be recognizably sane ourselves? Possibly charity toward a person who would commit such a crime is beyond me. I really don't know. But for me -for us- for the principle of the thing, damn it- we can't execute people who can not control their behavior.
If you agree, you might try writing to Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, There's a sample letter here: Amnesty International.