Monday, April 17, 2017

Helping People Die in Arkansas

I'm not an expert on the death penalty, but have learned a lot in the last few weeks, as I have researched and read.  I am definitely AGAINST the death penalty for multiple reasons, which I won't outline here.  I know the major pro-DP argument is closure for the victims' families.  But I have now heard victim's family members speak and write and say it has done/will do nothing for their loss to see another death (do two wrongs make a right?).  What they need is support at the time of their family member's death - counseling in particular and things Arkansas and most states do not provide. I have not lost a loved one (family or friend) to violent crime and I might feel differently if I had, but I would hope not.  I believe it is so easy to sit back and judge "the other" who is not like us.  Yet, we might not be like "us" if we didn't have loving families, good teachers, educational opportunities, good mental health, etc.  Please do not discount this - you and I are who and where we are primarily because of the families and communities we were born into and the love and support we have received all or most of our lives.

I feel so strongly about this- even more so today as I was holding babies in the NICU at Arkansas Children's Hospital, I thought about those precious little babies someday possibly being on Death Row.   Is it possible?  Yes.  Is it probable?  Who knows?  I don't know what their support networks (families, friends, teachers, etc.) will be, where they will land in the economic strata (homeless, hungry or privileged to never be either of these) or how their brains will function as adults.  But I know everyone on death row was once an innocent baby who may have had very little opportunity to be loved, educated, and supported in any way close to the way I was.

I know many of you and many who are Christian support the death penalty - I have seen "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" quoted ad nauseam on social media in the past few weeks.  Well, if God is going to judge, that may be fine, but human juries and judges?  I don't think so.  Plus the Jesus I follow said this (and I even used the King James version - not my favorite, but some people might think other versions are not godly - nothing surprises me anymore):

Matthew 5:38-48  King James Version (KJV)

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.....
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I am nowhere close to perfect, but supporting the killing of people would not help that any.  I need all the help I can get to love my neighbor and my enemy.  Condoning the killing of people, even confessed criminals, does not help me with this.

I needed to write this tonight as Arkansas rushes to try and execute eight people in the next 10 days (two of which apparently have stays from the state supreme court).  As of this writing, the 8th circuit overturned the district federal court stay and our state is pushing like crazy to get this done.  One prisoner is reported to have had his last meal.  This rush is all supposedly due to a drug that is expiring at the end of the month.  A drug which we've had, but we also needed vecuronium bromide - another lethal injection drug. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold for medical purposes, not executions.  This smacks of unethical behavior by our attorney general and governor.  Not that I think the firing squad or public hanging options, which many Arkansans apparently support, are any better.

I am sad and disillusioned and not sure how I can make any difference.  I can go to rallies, write/call the governor and others, pray and write this blog.  But nothing may have an impact on the lives of these eight men, at least four of who appear to suffer from extreme mental illness.  

So probably not many people will read this and some who do may spew judgment and criticism at me and some will support.  I'm not writing this to be loved - I'm writing it because my heart is hurting and I had to do something besides what I have.  I'm not sure what is about to happen in this state, but I am sad we are even considering.  I hope if you support these multiple executions and the death penalty that you feel truly good about yourself and your beliefs when (and if) the executions occur.

So be it.... Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with what you say here and I have lost a loved one to a violent crime and I have worked with young men and women in jail that's lives set them on a track that could very well end them up on death row. It is not a solution. It does not make some kind of magic closure. The victim is still gone. The tragedy is still real. The long ripples travel through time knocking the life out of those who lost a loved on again and again. Another death will not change that. Grief does not end when criminal is executed, it just begins anew for those who loved them.
    I was wondering what to write about this week and I think this may be in there.