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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To Kill, Or Not To Kill?

Jeffrey Todd Pierce was wrongly convicted of rape, spent over a decade in prison for a crime he did not commit.  Anthony Yarbough spent 21 years in prison for a triple homicide that he didn't commit.  Joseph Abbitt spent 14 years in prison because of an eyewitness account that was later proven to be incorrect.  Herman Atkins was convicted of rape and spent 12 years in prison and it was all because of improper forensic science (sound familiar Oklahoma?).  James Bain spent 35 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, wrongly convicted because of improper forensic science.

How many people wrongfully convicted, how many people wrongly sentenced to death are enough for us to wake up and realize that maybe - just maybe - there is something horribly wrong with our justice system?  Instead of taking a step back and reviewing what it is we are doing, my Christian brothers and sisters have decided that the only way to deal with criminals sentenced to death is to find new, creative, and original ways to kill them.  Apparently, even if they have been wrongfully convicted.

Don't get me wrong - I believe in swift, immediate justice when warranted.  For example, someone breaking into my home and attempting to harm my kids will most assuredly die of acute lead poisoning or they will be sent to the hospital having the damage the baseball bat to his/her colon repared.  Or, if a drunk driver blows a .15 at the scene of a fatality accident they themselves caused.  The evidence is conclusive, absolute, and no room for error.  But these are a far cry from some of the convictions we have seen over the years in Oklahoma County.  A whole book was written about it, as a matter of fact.

I've seen some of the commentary from my "brothers and sisters" in Christ who are adamant about the death penalty and are themselves boasting of their innovative and "effective" means to kill a convicted criminal.  These are supposedly pro-life supporters who believe that "every life is sacred," but yet convicted criminals, because of their conviction (wrongful or not), are less than human, perhaps not even the same species so our boasting, chest-thumping, and bravado about killing them is justified, right?  The funny thing is that the voices being heard the loudest are the ones who probably couldn't get off the couch fast enough to catch an armed turtle that broke in their homes.

Facepalm Jesus
Jesus is probably SO proud.

Here's the dilemma:  If we put to death someone who has been wrongfully convicted, that fact alone makes us murderers.  It's not a punishment for a crime; it's brute force, vengeance being exacted.  And yes, we know what the Scripture has to say about that.

I understand the pressure the Governor must be under to sign a bill that every elected official with a desire to be re-elected in Oklahoma had to support.  While I don't agree with the Governor, I respect her position because, after all, that's what the vast majority of people in Oklahoma want - they want the blood of the offender and they just don't give a damn how they come about it.  Again, I don't believe the Governor had any other choice politically than the one she made.  It's sad, but it's also Oklahoma. 

Maybe I am completely wrong here - but I just can't reconcile the facts that we're convicting people of crimes they simply did not commit, or that it is always the poor and the minorities who get the vast majority of the convictions with justification for killing someone within the parameters of the ustice system we currently have.

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.