She is a very sweet spirit and was upset by the story about Kimberly Cargill being the 10th female on death row.
“Is this bragging?” she asked.
The question was alarming — the idea of bragging about executions and her troubled tone shook me.
While Dayna Worchel’s story wasn’t bragging — she was reporting the news, and did so objectively — the death penalty is a divisive issue.
How do flawed humans know when to execute justice and when to have mercy? It’s a question I’ve pondered before — not only related to the death penalty, but the consequences are heavier on death row.
The editor of the Baptist Standard, Marv Knox, wrote a compelling editorial a few weeks ago that caught my attention. In the article he wrote that “Gov. Rick Perry should place a moratorium on executions, and the next session of the Texas Legislature should vote to abolish the death penalty”— bold move for the editor of a publication with a demographic of probably pretty conservative people.
“No reliable research supports the claim that capital punishment deters murder, according to an analysis of dozens of studies conducted across 36 years,” Knox wrote. “… First and foremost, the possibility — and almost certain likelihood — the state periodically executes innocent people should propel capital punishment beyond the pale of possibility. Dallas County leads the nation in proving wrongful convictions — 30 in the last 11 years. Since we know the courts can make grievous mistakes, how can we say we value life and perpetuate a program that sometimes kills innocent people?”
Knox had several other points, most about the economics of it or the flaws in the system. He never comes out and says that a murderer shouldn’t be killed for his crime, just reminds readers that Jesus said “he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Still, when a victim’s heart cries for justice, what should we say? Quote the Bible verse that says vengeance belongs to God? If I were a victim, I might find little comfort in that.
After I listened to my friend on the phone Tuesday, I hung up still thinking about what she had said.
Our entertainment editor, Stewart Smith, sometimes recounts working for a newspaper in Huntsville and covering lethal injections. He’d covered about a dozen, he said, and it wasn’t something he looked forward to.
After my friend called me with her concerns about the story, I asked him what the one thing was that all the executions he covered had in common. He thought about it for a long time before replying.
“There was always someone there who was sad to see them die,” he said. “These are terrible people who did terrible things, but they’re still someone’s father, brother, friend.”