Does anybody remember Clayton D. Lockett? No, of course not. Allow me to refresh your memory. Mr. Lockett was brutally murdered by our own federal government on April 29,2014 in a botched execution. Lockett was administered an untested mixture of drugs that had not previously been used for executions in the United States. Although the execution was stopped, Lockett died 43 minutes after being sedated. He writhed, groaned, convulsed, and spoke during the process and attempted to rise from the execution table fourteen minutes into the procedure, despite having been declared unconscious.
Does anybody remember Clemente Javier Aguirre? Probably not. In 2006, he was sentenced to death for the stabbing deaths of two neighbors, despite the fact that he maintained his innocence throughout. Last year, after spending 14 years on Florida’s death row, he was exonerated by DNA evidence that had been withheld at his trial, and a confession by the real killer. What if Mr. Aguirre had been executed as initially planned?
It is not possible to undo death!
Today, the United States took a step backward toward the Dark Ages. Today, Attorney General William Barr announced that the federal government, such as it is, will re-instate the death penalty and that five executions have already been scheduled to take place, with more to be announced soon.
Let me just give you a few facts:
- Since 1972, 165 people have been exonerated that were on death row.
- African American defendants are three times more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants.
- 88% of criminologists believe the death penalty is not a deterrent.
Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of the shooting-death of off-duty police officer Mark McPhail. He was executed in 2011. His conviction was based on the testimony of nine witnesses, seven of whom later recanted their testimony or admitted it was false.
Carlos DeLuna was executed in Texas in 1989 for the stabbing death of Wanda Lopez. DeLuna maintained his innocence throughout his imprisonment and insisted another individual by the name of Carlos Hernandez was really the killer.
Gary Graham was sentenced to death at the age of 18 in 1981 in Texas for the robbery and murder of Bobby Lambert. He was executed in 2000. His conviction was based largely on the testimony of one witness who said she saw him through a windshield from over 30 feet away.
Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 for the death of his three young daughters in a house fire. Willingham’s conviction was based on faulty forensic science which erroneously concluded that the fire was arson.
I am, in case you couldn’t tell, incensed by this decision at this time. I would likely be incensed by such a decision at any time, but under the present administration, and with the current divisive political climate in this nation, this is no time to be re-instituting state-sanctioned murder! Does anybody trust our government not to start executing immigrants? I don’t. With Trump having appointed some 131 federal judges thus far, with Trump spouting racism on a daily basis, with the spate of killings of unarmed blacks in the past decade … does anybody believe there is equal justice for all in this nation? I don’t.
The contingent, primarily white, evangelicals, who seek to take away a women’s right to make her own health decisions, who are so strongly opposed to abortion that they are willing to sentence a woman to death rather than allow her to have an abortion, call themselves “pro-life”. Well, guess what, people? If you claim to be pro-life, then you damn well better be enraged by this decision to re-start government-sponsored murder, for these people on death row are humans, are people, they have lives that you should care about. I’m waiting …
This nation has taken many steps backward since 20 January 2017. This is just one more in a long series of inhumane decisions by Donald Trump and his minions. This is no longer a nation I recognize nor that I take any pride in. We are on a path that most of us did not choose. Ask yourself, if you have the courage: What next?