"Life is death, death is life. I hope that someday this absurdity that humanity has come to will come to an end," [Richard] Cobb said when asked if he had any last words. "Life is too short. I hope anyone that has negative energy towards me will resolve that.
"Life is too short to harbor feelings of hatred and anger. That's it, warden."
Another inmate is dead.
But nothing is changed.
Richard Cobb was murdered on Thursday night at the hand of the State of Texas for a murder he committed almost eleven years ago. The other man convicted in the case, Beunka Adams, was murdered by the state a year ago this week.
Kenneth Vandever, the man Mr. Cobb murdered, is still dead. His family still feels the loss. The deaths of Mr. Cobb and Mr. Adams don't change that. There is nothing that will ever take away that sense of loss.
"I think justice was served but it doesn't change anything to speak of," the slain man's father, Don Vandever, said after watching Cobb die. "I do think the justice system needs to be more of a deterrent.
"All he did was go to sleep. That's it."
Yes, that's all that happened last night. A person with a medical license from the State hooked up an IV so that someone else could press a button to release the poison into Mr. Cobb's vein. But even had Mr. Cobb been electrocuted, hung, shot or drawn and quartered, Mr. Vandever's son wasn't coming back to life.
The death penalty is not a deterrent to murder. It never has been and it never will be. In order for it to be a deterrent, everyone would have to think in abstract terms of benefits and consequences before doing anything. Yes, your chances of being murdered by the state are long indeed, but there are only a select few crimes that the government chooses to exercise its power to kill. Besides, most of the time no one planned on killing anyone.
The death penalty can be a deterrent to trial, however. Given a choice between pleading guilty and taking life in prison versus going to trial and risking the needle, many defendants elect to plead. The ones who go to trial either proclaim their innocence or weren't given the choice to plead.
In the end our society will be judged by how we treated our worst members. We have spent years waging war against the poor and people of color and locking them up behind bars. We have a governor who thinks presiding over the murder of inmates makes him more of a man.
The madness needs to stop. It's time we stopped killing inmates. Violence begets violence and hate begets hate. The death penalty is a cancer that's killing us from within. It is time to excise the cancer and find a better way to deal with the worst of the worst.