Thursday, March 20, 2014

Update: Texas kills again

The State of Texas felt the need to exact its revenge last night by murdering Ray Jasper who had been sentenced to death for the 1999 slaying of David Alejandro.

Mr. Jasper was the only one of the three men charged with the murder to get the needle. One co-defendant took an offer of life and the other was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. While Mr. Jasper admitted slashing Mr. Alejandro's throat, he has always claimed that the victim died as the result of stab wounds he received from one of the co-defendants.

The murder of Mr. Jasper did not bring about any closure to Mr. Alejandro's family - who are opposed to the death penalty. Instead of driving out to Huntsville to watch the execution, they stayed in San Antonio. Whatever happened to listening to the victim's family when determining the appropriate punishment in a case? Isn't that what prosecutors tell us they have to take into account when making an offer in a particularly heinous case? But who listens to those family members when they don't want what the prosecutors want?

What possible satisfaction could that bring to those who feel the need to kill inmates? How dare the family of the victim not share in the collective sense of revenge and bloodlust? Can it be possible for the family of a victim to put the death of their loved one behind them and concentrate on living their lives in the present?

So what did the murder of Ray Jasper accomplish?


Meanwhile, across the Red River, the State of Oklahoma was forced to delay the scheduled executions of two inmates due to an inability to obtain the drugs needed to kill them. The recent spate of publicity that compounding pharmacies that provide the drugs of death to prisons may have served to cool their entrepreneurial spirit. It certainly can't be good for business to be associated with making the drugs used to execute prisoners. It is ethically questionable at best.

Slowly but surely we are emerging out of the 19th century when it comes to our notions of punishment. One day we will join the enlightened world and realize that we were only serving to demean our own lives by exacting revenge in the name of the state.

We have become far too willing over the past few decades to use mass incarceration as a tool of social and political control. The continued use of the death penalty is nothing more than legalized lynching. And neither benefits society.

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