Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Putting to Death the Death Penalty

Thanks to New Jersey.

Thank you, New Jersey legislature and Governor Corzine, for putting an end to the death penalty, the first state to do so in over 40 years.

What a gruesome state of affairs our prisons -- and especially our death rows -- are in. No other civilized nation packs 'em in like we do. We must love prisons. Or someone loves prisons. The prison lobby, and don't you know, like grackles, like funeral directors, there is a strong prison lobby.

As a region, the South loves the death penalty the most. The South accounts for 86% of all executions performed in the United States. And Texas alone, this ass backwards state in which I happen to reside, accounts for 62% of ALL United States executions. Jesus, lord.

I know we have a lot of people here in Lone Star State, around abouts 20 million or so, but we've also got some serious inclinations toward the institution of incarceration. And we've got the most famous death row in the world, behind "The Wall" in Huntsville, an historic burg in which I have dallied long enough to learn that prison guards do not make for great cocktail party conversation.

No studies show prisons nor prisoners of the sort we so to be the solution to our ills. And no study shows the death penalty to be a worthy deterrent, the only moral argument for its existence. And so, really, the arguments for the death penalty are immoral, the stuff of bullies and profiteers and Old Testament thugs. Still, the march to the gallows (by lethal injection now, not rope nor guillotine ) goes on, with tough old gunslinger Texas leading the way.

Surely, there is a better way.

'Tis the season to turn the tide.

And so again, thanks to New Jersey for leading the other way, surely a better way toward a more decent nation. Even a more honorable one.


At 1/05/2008 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like spring, it appears that the death penalty, after years of rhetoric may go out like a lamb. However, the undercurrent of some quiet and not so quiet individual acts may have provided some momentum for at long last, logical thought on an issue that seems to provoke passion and passionately disparate opinions. A criminal justice professor, Dr Lindemeyer, has physically protested almost every execution for the past 20 plus years. Imagine how many students he has impacted in 30 or so years of teaching. Every year 2 or 3 British Law students intern in Huntsville with lawyers who have death penalty cases. For these students, it is a little like going to a third world country to study child labor. They become a mirror for us to see ourselves. Many of us don't like the reflection. At some point, the tide began to turn, who knows when? DNA testing has certainly been a factor. We now know that people innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted have been executed, and almost executed. Could our blood lust have been sated by our losses in Iraq, are we finally growing disgusted with corporate, private and national wars and their end result of human destruction? Or maybe people have just lost interest. We Americans are a fickle lot. It's a pretty boring side show compared to so-called "reality" shows that offer continuous and titillating action, death penalty cases rattle along for years (15 or 20) before there is any resolution. Wouldn't it be ironic if Bush's tenure was remembered for ending the death penalty? So your time in Huntsville is relegated to the "Dalliance" folder? self-imposed prisoner of prison city


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