Texas Inmate Gary Graham Executed.
June 22, 2000 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Texas Inmate Gary Graham Executed. I always thought that the Governor of a state had the authority to grant a full or conditional pardon or a reprieve if he or she believed that further investigation (?) was required. According to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, said authority is only available "upon the recommendation of the board." Is this common among the States?
posted by chrish (37 comments total)
``After considering all of the facts I am convinced justice is being done,'' Bush said after final appeals were denied. ``May God bless the victim, the family of the victim, and may God bless Mr. Graham.''

Yeah, thanks, George. I'm sure he feels much better now. My question is; how can we prove his innocence? I want to do it. I want to prove he was innocent just because that way, we can finally have a proven innocent man put to death rather than a 'dubious case' that people can explain away. It doesn't seem to me that we can do that with this one, though. From the articles I read, DNA testing won't do any good in this case (Graham was convicted without any) and it all pretty much hinged on the prosecution managing to control the witnesses, to Graham's disadvantage.

Perhaps, in a just world, when an innocent man was put to death all of his prosecutors and all those who could have stopped it but chose to do nothing would also die at that exact moment. But then again, we don't live in a just world, or there would be no murders in the first place.

Well, Graham is dead. Guilt or innocence can't change that. If he was guilty, he's still dead, and so is his victim. Our modern weregild, the law of talion, has been put into practice. If he was innocent, then George Bush and eighteen of his appointed Board members are now also murderers, as are the prosecution lawyers. I can certainly understand why this is such a popular practice.

I'm not blind to the reasons the family of the victims would want this. I only think that they would want to be sure. If someone killed someone dear to me, I would make damn sure that if the state was stepping in and stealing any chance of my taking vengeance, that they at least didn't fucking skimp on the prosecution, or play games with anyone else's life. Get the right man, and make sure you have it airtight. It would drive me insane if I had to read years later how the prosecutors supressed evidence that pointed away from the man on death row for killing someone dear to me. How is that supposed to make the family feel? How is that helping them?

I guess the answer is simply that it isn't about helping the family of the victim. It's about the state telling you that only it can take life. Power and control, all dressed up with pretty words like Justice and God, when there's precious little justice involved and the only God I see is the one people hear about just before they die.
posted by Ezrael at 11:36 PM on June 22, 2000

After reading the "Executive Clemency" page of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles website for a second time, I have discovered that the Governor DOES have the power, regardless of the Board's recommendation, to issue a 30-day reprieve for capital offenders.

I think I'm going to register to vote, just so I can NOT vote for Bush.
posted by chrish at 6:36 AM on June 23, 2000

Now, I'm certainly one to agree that the death penalty is horrifically misapplied sometimes, and that it definitely deserves reform. I personally wouldn't ever be comfortable giving someone a death sentence or carrying it out unless I was sure *way* beyond a reasonable doubt that they were, in fact, guilty. DNA evidence would be an extremely powerful tool in this regard (O.J. Simpson, anyone?).

And from the news blurps I thought maybe this one was one of those bogus sentences. And then I read the abcnews article about this this morning:

Lambert was shot and killed outside a Houston Safeway supermarket on May 13, 1981. Shortly after, Graham pleaded guilty to 10 aggravated robberies during a weeklong crime spree that prosecutors say began with Lambert’s slaying.
A week after Lambert’s death, police arrested Graham, naked and asleep, at the home of a 57-year-old woman he had abducted at gunpoint and raped.

Hmmm. So even if the witness who implicated him in the Lambert killing was somehow mistaken, we *know* that this guy did 10 aggravated robberies (in one week, no less), and kidnapped a woman at gunpoint and raped her in her own home?

Call me an asshole, but I fail to feel sorry for this guy. This is not someone who was just going about his business, living his life without seriously messing with other people. [From what this story says] this man is surely quite guilty indeed.

"I am an innocent man!", he proclaims.

Yeah, right. Ask the woman he raped how innocent he is.

If this guy had raped someone I love (say, for instance, my mother), I would have been crusading for his death from the moment I heard about it.

I, for one, am definitely not sad to see him go. Is it Justice with a capital "J"? Not exactly. But then again our sentencing system is fraught with peril in other areas as well, such as rape and drugs, just to name two.

Why don't the anti-death-penalty people focus on folks who maybe really *are* truly innocent?? (at least of crimes where they cause massive danger and damage to other people's lives).

And I'm no fan of G.W. Alfred E. Bush. I happen to live in Austin. I want one of those bumper stickers that says, "I didn't vote for his daddy either!".

posted by beth at 6:43 AM on June 23, 2000

Yes, the Governor DOES have the power...but only once. Bush's predecessor had already granted Graham's one 30-day
reprieve...which Bush mentioned any time he could get someone to listen.

I'm not voting for Bush...but in this case, he didn't have
much that he could have done, even if he had wanted to. Not that he would have wanted to.
posted by ivey at 6:45 AM on June 23, 2000

You shouldn't put someone to death under the premise that "well, if he didn't do this, we know he did other things." Do you want the cops to grab the most convenient heinous felon when they are investigating a murder, or do you want them to hold out for the real murderer? Executing the wrong guy because of other bad things he did still leaves the right guy out there somewhere.
posted by rcade at 6:53 AM on June 23, 2000

The death penalty has been proved the only effective state-sanctioned way to get young black men of dubious guilt permanently off the streets of the USA. Of course, OJ proves that this doesn't extend to the middle-aged.
posted by holgate at 7:02 AM on June 23, 2000

>Bush's predecessor had already granted Graham's one 30-day
reprieve...which Bush mentioned any time he could get someone to listen.

Yes, but since Ann Richards is a Democrat, most people conveniently ignore the facts. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of people involved in this current "death penalty" argument are simply after Bush, making any rational debate impossible.

Sidenote: Until Bush became governor, what governor presided over more executions than any other? Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

posted by aaron at 7:25 AM on June 23, 2000

Re Graham's innocence:

He pled guilty to everything but the murder.
posted by solistrato at 7:27 AM on June 23, 2000

Not that there's anything WRONG with being after Bush... I'd love to see him take the fall for this, even if it's not his fault. Media crucifiction i always fun to watch, especially when it's some like Dubya.
posted by ivey at 7:36 AM on June 23, 2000

rcade wrote:
You shouldn't put someone to death under the premise that "well, if he didn't do this, we know he did
other things." Do you want the cops to grab the most convenient heinous felon when they are
investigating a murder, or do you want them to hold out for the real murderer?

I really want true Justice to be done in as many cases as possible. By all means, catch the person truly responsible and give them an appropriate punishment.

I don't think it's "OK" to kill someone for a crime they didn't commit as long as they have done other bad things - not at all. I was merely stating that:

GIVEN THAT: The guy has done some hideous awful crimes that we are sure of (because he admitted to them).

GIVEN THAT: Apparently there is no massive incontrovertible proof that he *didn't* commit the murder (and if there is, I suggest his supporters share it with the media).

GIVEN THAT: He self-righteously proclaims how "innocent" he is (maybe "I didn't commit *that particular* crime" would be more accurate).

GIVEN THAT: He's gone.

So, given all those things, I personally am not sad to see him go. Your mileage may vary, and that's perfectly all right with me.

I think that the death penalty in this country DOES truly need reform, and that championing a guy like this is not the most effective way to crusade for it. Why not focus on someone else who has (perhaps) been wrongly convicted of murder, and who has NOT committed other awful crimes against other people? That would make a much more effective case when demanding reform.

And for that matter, acknowledging the race realities in this country, a lot more progress could in theory be made crusading for a wrongly-convicted person sentenced to death who happens to be white. (NO, I do not think this is how it SHOULD be, merely that this is how it IS)
posted by beth at 7:47 AM on June 23, 2000

Yes, the Governor DOES have the power...but only once. Bush's predecessor had already granted Graham's one 30-day
reprieve...which Bush mentioned any time he could get someone to listen.

it's been suggested that this rule could have been interpreted to mean that each governor may grant a reprieve once per case. certainly no one would have challenged Bush had he chosen to do so.

the eighteen board members were all appointed by Bush to the position, for which they receive $80,000/year. there has been a lot of research done into the workings of this controversial system recently, and apparently the board members are generally notified by a phone call by one of Bush's aides as to how the governor wants the vote to turn out. the members then fax their votes in. this is not justice. this is not the "complete and unbiased review of the petition and evidence" that the board chairman suggested. listen to today's episode of Democracy Now for more info.
posted by sudama at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2000

in this case, he didn't have much that he could have done, even if he had wanted to

Well, he could be petitioning the legislature and the people of Texas for the power to control executions. But having a bureaucratic board do all the deciding for you is a convenient way to escape political rancor from either side of the debate.

I think it's all silly. There's no reason to execute anyone. It's too drawn-out, unlikely, and hidden from view to be a deterrent. Besides, if you are upset enough to kill someone, are you really thinking about the punishment? So the only other reason to do it would be to avenge the victim. But that's not what our justice system is about. We don't repay any other crimes in this way.

And even if you don't agree with those arguments, the mere chance that an innocent person might be executed is reason enough. The US justice system is generally based on the principle that its better to be safe than sorry in favor of the accused, because the US system of rights is supposed to be in favor of the individual. I don't think the justice system is foolproof enough that we could ever be sure about every murder convict. Sure there may be some cases in which we can be 100% certain, but drawing that line is also impossible to do.
posted by daveadams at 8:25 AM on June 23, 2000

There was... maybe two weeks ago a NYT article on some public defender in Texas (who I believe defended Graham as well) who claims to, as a public defender, have sent more clients to death row than any other lawyer in the country. Or something like that. Anyway, he came across as more or less an executioner -- and he's been the subject of numerous complaints and at least one investigation, as he has a tendency to not call witnesses, particularly ones that claim his clients are innocent. Oh, and apparently public defenders are appointed to a case by the presiding judge in Texas, and there was some indication that the primary criteria were things like how fast they could move trials through the court system. Does anyone have a link to this article offhand? I should go dig it up...
posted by tingley at 8:29 AM on June 23, 2000

Ok, so we can all agree that Gary Graham was fairly evil and not really a productive member of society. But do we have to kill him?

What is wrong with life imprisionment without parole?
posted by mathowie at 8:35 AM on June 23, 2000

Since he was guilty of the rape, and since I do feel rape should be a capital offense, I do not think the execution was unjust. For me, the acceptable thing about execution, is that it can deliver satisfaction to the wronged families involved. I would be willing to live with a system that allowed the murdered peoples families to stay an execution, but not endure people whos only involvement is some oblique sense that all life is precious and of equal value. Some crimes take you right out of the human race, and as such it should not be our responsibility to feed and cloth them for the rest of their lives. To champion these murderers to strongly, and to not acknowlege that we are better off when they are gone, is to further hurt the families.
And like Beth said, I bet the woman he raped and victimized is not crying for him.
posted by thirteen at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2000

I just read Dave Adams post. I have always thought the main job of our justice system was an attempt to make the injured party whole. This is why we award money to people when they are wronged. The crimes the death penalty is reserved for are very serious and demand greater punishment. I wish people would not have made the deterrent argument. It does not matter why you do anything, it matters that you did it.
I guess we can all agree that innocent people should not be executed, thats something anyway. We just don't agree that this man was innocent.
posted by thirteen at 9:42 AM on June 23, 2000

i hope we all agree that people convicted of crimes they committed as a minor should not be sentenced to death.
posted by sudama at 9:48 AM on June 23, 2000

Why would we agree on that? I do admit there is a difference between that 6 year old in Michigan who shot his classmate, and a 17 year old who kills someone while robbing a store, but where do you draw the line. If they had survived, should the Columbine killers have been spared because they were minors? I trust the jury system to determine if the criminal was aware of what they were doing, are should have been aware that their actions are wrong. If you are old enough to consent to sex and drive a car at 16, you should pay the price of any grief you may cause.
posted by thirteen at 10:28 AM on June 23, 2000

fyi, today's NYT has a rather scathing editorial on the whole situation, comdemning Bush, Gore, the system, etc. I tend to agree. But then, I don't believe you can be too careful about state-sponsored killing.
posted by tingley at 11:00 AM on June 23, 2000

I have always thought the main job of our justice system was an attempt to make the injured party whole. This is why we award money to people when they are wronged.

All right, well, we have two justice systems, really. The criminal justice system was what I was talking about. In my mind, its purpose is to punish those that break the law, and most definitely not to avenge the victims.

The civil courts award money to those who have been wronged in some way. The civil courts are about making up for losses due to another person's actions, but civil courts do not have the power to sentence someone to death.

I do admit there is a difference between that 6 year old in Michigan who shot his classmate, and a 17 year old who kills someone while robbing a store, but where do you draw the line.

"Where do you draw the line?" This question is impossible to answer in a meaningful way (in other words, beyond "I know it when I see it.") on this issue. There is no solid line you can draw. That's why I am for drawing the line before you get anywhere. Don't execute anyone, and you don't have these kinds of questions. I just fail to see the value of executing someone, regardless of the crime.

We just don't agree that this man was innocent.

I don't know if he was innocent or not, but whether or not he was telling the truth doesn't matter to my argument. I don't think anyone should be executed by the government. There is no value gained, only the risk of value lost.
posted by daveadams at 12:35 PM on June 23, 2000

What could be more tragic than when honorable people disagree on topics that do not allow compromise. I would much rather banish people than execute them, but there is nowhere left to put them. To some victims, and the families of victims, it cannot end until you know the criminal is not out there somewhere. How can you deny them that. I have not suffered from any crime that would carry a death penalty, but some of my friends have. Many of my female friends have been raped, two twice. I know that when a crime is punished by a light sentence, it hurts the victim again. To find out that if someone touches your life in a way so horrible, you never behave the same way again, is only woth 5 years of theirs. And then they get out early. Believe me when I say, If I were to have such a crime commited against someone I love, I would want them dead, and if you took up the cause of the one who had hurt me, I would have to wonder how you got screwed up. I do not feel too bad for criminals. I do not abuse my emotions loving the aggressor. Our only responsibility is to make it know, that if you take a life, you will pay with your life. That is obvious, and generous. If there are going to be executions, the government has to be the one to carry them out. Who else could? The punishment does not serve the government, It serves society.
posted by thirteen at 2:16 PM on June 23, 2000

it's called "life in prison without parole" and it's cheaper, more just, constitutional, and humane.
posted by sudama at 2:30 PM on June 23, 2000

What was the question? I know I disagree with the answer.
posted by thirteen at 2:47 PM on June 23, 2000

I would much rather banish people than execute them, but there is nowhere left to put them.
posted by sudama at 3:03 PM on June 23, 2000

Ahhh. I was thinking more like Australia. Or maybe Venus.
posted by thirteen at 3:05 PM on June 23, 2000

No offense to the fine people of Australia.
posted by thirteen at 3:06 PM on June 23, 2000

On the subject of rape as a capital offense: no way. FAR too easy to falsely accuse. I know as a feminist I'm not supposed to say this, but: people can lie about being raped-- women can lie about rape. They can, and they do.

And from another perspective, why rape but not assault? If someone beats you so badly you're hospitalized for months, isn't that as painful and humiliating as rape? Why punish one with death, but not the other?
posted by wiremommy at 3:41 PM on June 23, 2000

My three observations:

First, I don't like the whole notion that the death penalty satisfies the needs of the victims' families -- it's a cop out answer just as Dubya's reliance on the Parole Board's "final decision" is a cop out. I think that the argument that the death penalty is morally wrong extends to cover the fact that it's wrong to satisfy the desires of the victims' families to kill the perpetrator. If I, as a theoretical relative of a thresher maiming accident, fervently believe that the driver of the thresher should be drawn and quartered, I don't know if it's society's job to satisfy that desire... (In addition, there are far too many families of victims who have strongly campaigned against the execution of those who committed the crimes to support this argument.)

Second, as dave pointed out, the death penalty is really the only criminal punsihment meted out in the U.S. in an eye-for-an-eye fashion. Most of the arguments used, here and elsewhere, to justify the death penalty could be used to justify raping rape perpetrators, beating assault convicts, and the like... and that's just plain wrong.

Lastly, as a doctor, every time I see the "death room" videos that inevitably precede and follow ever execution I cringe. It tends to make me sick that that there is a cold, calculated plan that starts with taking a prisoner from his (or, rarely, her) cell and then involves strapping him down to a table or into a chair, connecting various instruments of death (electrodes or intravenous lines) to his body, and lastly manually flipping the switch that begins the quick process of taking his life. As much as I try to think about the other side -- putting myself in the shoes of the family of the victim, or the victims themselves as their lives are being taken -- I can't get over the fact that turning around and taking another life is just horribly wrong.
posted by delfuego at 6:34 PM on June 23, 2000

Life without parole is still life for those who commit the most terrible crimes. Please tell me why it is worth keeping one sick bastard who may has killed, raped, or murdered dozens if not hundreds of people? I believe you pay a price for what you do here and/or rewarded for actions that benefit people. I have no reason to pay for a luxery hotel for criminals who watch cable tv, get an education, and support a lifestyle that only breads more sinister criminal behavior. Make going to jail something that criminals may just think twice about.
posted by brent at 7:29 PM on June 23, 2000


One line of yours -- the one about whether or not it's "worth keeping" someone alive -- focused my beliefs, and I thank you for that.

When a criminal makes a decision that a life isn't "worth keeping" around, many people become outraged.

When law and order citizens decide that that criminal's life isn't "worth keeping" around, those same people become satisfied.

This fundamental difference bothers me, and always will. We (as a society) consider murder as serious a crime as we do because taking a life is A Bad Thing, yet we also then endorse the state-sponsored taking of lives. To me, the notion that it's up to anyone to determine whether another life is "worth keeping" -- criminals and juries alike -- is terrible, reflects very poorly on our country, and, rather than highlighting it, actually dilutes the value of life.
posted by delfuego at 8:36 PM on June 23, 2000

It really is a shame all these sloppy murderers don't do a little research, and murder members of your families instead members of those families whose relatives give a damn. I suppose it takes a bit of the fun away if the people left behind just wanna give you a big hug. Gacy seemed to have a pretty good time until he died, Speck had a WONDERFUL time. But I suppose that is punishment enough. I also suppose we should let all the rapists out of jail too, the victims could be lying. After all if we are not sure enough to execute them, we can't be sure enough to falsely imprision them. Think i'm being unfair? Right back at you.
Actually, I do think a terrible beating is worth the death penalty. I think every one of those bozos involved in the Central Park PR day incident need to be killed. I think any violation of the individual must not be tolerated. It is the same sympathy some of you feel for the people doing the beating, raping and murdering.
I do think the opinion of the family matters, and if they request the criminal be spared I would support them. The reverse does not seem to be true. I think the point about the number of victims relatives requesting mercy is rendered moot by the increase of people taking justice in their own hands when criminals get off lightly. We have all heard about mothers killing their daughters' rapists. I do not think your arguments are without merit, but look who you are siding with and who you stand against. Killing these people should make you sick, but no one is being killed without reason. The innocent must not be killed. How do we keep innocent people from being killed is the only question worth considering.
I am an atheist, I believe death is the end, and I believe this is the ultimate punishment. From my perspective our lives are the whole of us, and to take it away is unforgivable. This is justice when properly proved, and carried out. If you are to convince me otherwise, you need to say something more than this is wrong. Prove it to me.
I also think anything other than hanging and firing squads are a bit twisted, but these quick forms of death have mutated to more horrible, seemingly humane forms. It does not bother me much tho.
Lastly, I hope Bush does not become president next time around. I have put up with 8 years of hearing "Slick Willie" I don't think I could handle hearing "Dubyah" for the next four.
posted by thirteen at 8:43 PM on June 23, 2000

thirteen: How do we keep innocent people from being killed is the only question worth considering.

Although I don't agree that it's the only question worth considering, I will say that if we eliminated the death penalty, we will have effectively solved this problem, with no chance of making a mistake.

thirteen: I also suppose we should let all the rapists out of jail too, the victims could be lying.

Now, c'mon, you know this isn't what wiremommy meant. There's no reason to go overboard.

brent: I have no reason to pay for a luxery hotel for criminals who watch cable tv, get an education, and support a lifestyle that only breads more sinister criminal behavior. Make going to jail something that criminals may just think twice about.

I agree that jail shouldn't provide a pampered life for criminals, and I doubt that it really is, despite the cliches about the life-of-luxury-and-high-quality-living-at-taxpayer-expense. But are the only two options cushy jail and the death penalty? If you are concerned that prison life is too easy, perhaps you should be advocating for fewer perqs for prisoners.

thirteen: I would much rather banish people than execute them, but there is nowhere left to put them

So why not advocate for longer, more meaningful jail sentences? Surely, assuming the prisoner doesn't escape, life in prison is the same as banishment. They aren't walking the streets. If they are, that's a different problem and it doesn't mean we should kill them.
posted by daveadams at 9:10 PM on June 23, 2000

I do not think I was unfair, but I was rude to wiremommy, and I am sorry. I know he (or she?) did not mean what I extrapolated, but the logic does boil down that way. If we are not sure enough to apply the death sentence, we are not sure enough to imprision. Proof should be proof. Rape should be easier to prove than most other crimes, and I think it is serious enough to merit our harshest punishment.
Prision does not meet the dictionary definition of banishment, nor mine. If they are in prision we have to watch them. We feed and cloth them. They see how we live, they have contact with our society, they appear in our Bennetton (whatever) ads. To be truely banished, we would never hear from them again
I surely do appreciate the friendly forum Metafilter provides, so again I am sorry about the sarcastic tone of my last post. Daves reply was thoughtful, thank you. The only thing about Metafilter that causes me despair are situations like this one, we are all to old to really have our minds changed. I am sure it happens on occassion, but for the most part our minds are made up, and nothing will change them. It seems to me we are not too far apart, but that difference is insurmountable. That is why I can only hope for democracy to work, and for juries to work. I can handle an unfair situation if I think it makes the majority happy. I work very hard to remove contradiction from my thought process, and I want to learn. I am very open to having my mind changed, but like I said before the arguments are not very compelling. Tell me why murders deserve as much respect as me, explain it to me in a way that does not depend on feelings or fuzziness. It does not work to tell me it diminishes us all when I feel nothing but hope when these people die. Failure to do so just makes me angry.
posted by thirteen at 9:50 PM on June 23, 2000

what a bunch of uncaring folks in here......don't you realize that the death penalty is the state's measure of the value of life? In other words, innocent life is SO valued that we tell any one who would take it that to do so means they will exchange their own life for it. Any thing less makes the statement "oh well, that murder victim wasn't really worth much....put the murderer in jail for a few years and we'll call it even....." It's not about deterrence or revenge, it's about the value of life.
posted by webwide at 9:52 PM on June 23, 2000

Thirteen: You can always let someone out of jail if you are wrong. Dead people don't come back. And yes, I therefore am willing to bend and allow for imprisonment when I would not allow for execution.

Web: The state that lets people starve on the streets is suddenly so damn concerned about how much my life is worth? Bullshit. They don't care about individual life at all...they care about what they have to do to hold onto the reins. It's about power. That's all. The power of a monolith to crush an ant for daring to usurp the monolith's perogative. I have yet to see evidence one that any of these people care about others.

I'm sorry, but I do not trust the people who sit by and let testimony be excluded, who allow lawyers to present no evidence in their client's defense, who pass the buck on granting access to DNA evidence and in general rush these people to the place of death. I do not trust the State of Texas with my life. (Or Florida, or Virginia, or any of them, really.) Do I think that Rapists and Murderers should go unpunished? No, I do not. But if we're going to punish people irrevocably, a different standard has to be applied. You can let people out of prison, not the grave. In an imperfect system, I can accept (I don't like it, but I accept it) that people will be unjustly convicted. This is a horror, but it happens.

People unjustly convicted of murder may well die. And as I have now hammered into the ground, you can't unkill anyone. If we could, we would unkill the victims, I would think. I am not arguing no death penalty ever (in fact, I'd like to see rapists held to that standard...I do believe rape is worse than being viciously beaten, having an understanding of both experiences) I am merely arguing that the standard of evidence must be higher to kill them.

That's it. We must be as sure as is possible. We must exhaust every possibility. Only then may we kill. Even then, we will make errors, of course. But better to make an error after having exerted yourself to the utmost to avoid one than to make one because you didn't even try.

And I care. Oh sweet Jesus, I care. I care for the families who lose a loved one, because I know how hard it is. But I also care for the individual's rights in the face of a vast entrenched social power that has limitless resources to prosecute, convict and execute him. It isn't far to the Gulag, if we don't strive to keep that from ever happening. One man against the state is always a mismatch. I may hate the person accused, think him or her scum and want them to die, but I also know that it isn't that far for any of us to end up against a wall with the Government pressing down on you. That's why we need checks and balances, why we need to be sure. We have to watch them; there's nobody else to do it but us.

Because The State is Me. And You. And all of us. And when it kills in my name, I want a goddamn accounting of it, and it had better be as righteous as it can be, because that blood is on my hands. Institutionalizing the penal system removed grudges and revenge from the hands of the individual citizen, to some degree...but it did not remove my responsibility for the act of punishment. I am a cog in the machine, and if I stand back and say nothing, I am grinding those people down to dust. I need to be sure they're guilty if I'm to live with that.
posted by Ezrael at 10:36 PM on June 23, 2000

That's it. We must be as sure as is possible. We must exhaust every possibility. Only then may we kill.

on this point we agree......and having seen the evidence I sleep well at night assured that this is exactly what is happening day-in, day-out in America. You make it sound like it is rare......I must ask, do you not realize that 98% of every guilty, convicted criminal claims to be innocent? And do you believe them? If that is the case, then I guess I understand why you are so worried about this......

I watched an interesting show on forensics the other night involving cases that were solved *merely* by forensics....hair samples, analysis of dirt and residues, etc. It is fascinating. It was also revealing, because the criminals who were apprehended in these cases had been interviewed multiple times by police and had covered themselves well with alibis and by hiding the evidence. The evidence proved them both guilty and if they had been in Texas they would have paid for it with their lives by now. However, they are both probably protesting their innocence in some appeals court and looking for sympathetic ears in the media and the public at large......and they will find them......
posted by webwide at 6:47 AM on June 24, 2000

Well, that's where we differ, web. You trust the system. I do not.

I don't trust any system put in place by a state whose own citizens expect it to fail. The people of Texas support the death penalty despite their assumption that innocent people are being put to death. I keep mentioning this because of how important it is.

Yes, guilty people proclaim their innocence, but so do innocent people. Should we say 'screw it, he's guilty' because of that? And what I'm talking about is the proper application of forensic evidence. I am against the suppression of that evidence. If it convicts, fine. If it would acquit, however, in many cases it is being suppressed. See some examples. This is a blatant injustice, and it needs to be corrected.

That's where I stand on it. I don't think we're going to come to an agreement on this one, and I'm kinda tired of trying to get to common ground. I'll accept that you believe in the system. I hope you can accept that I think it cannot be trusted until it is reformed, and that is why I will continue to oppose the death penalty.
posted by Ezrael at 1:03 PM on June 24, 2000

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