William Downs was executed in South Carolina on July 14.
There is no way to argue that he was innocent. There's no way to claim that he did anything other than inflict horrible pain on a child and the child's family. I can barely find place in my heart to pity him.
But he still shouldn't have been killed. Killing him diminishes all of us. We become not just killers ourselves, but killers of the mentally ill.
You can find an indifferently written blog entry from one of the media witnesses to the execution here: WLTX. It's worth reading, just to learn more about how and why executions are covered by the press. There is no mention of Down's "guilty but mentally ill" conviction. There's no mention of the reactions of the observers. There's no mention of whether or not the family of his victim found any peace in the process. There is a brief mention of the fact that Down's sister is the one who turned him into the police. She was there to watch the execution. Now, there's a story -not that I'd be willing to tell it, in her shoes. But can you imagine the emotional turmoil? I can hardly stand to think about it.
Truth, justice, and the American way.... is there anything meritorious about the American way, anymore? I don't feel anything other than small and cheapened.