Monday, March 23, 2009

In Which New Mexico Regains Its Soul

I won't lie. It's not easy to be glib while writing about the death penalty. But I gotta remain true to my convictions. Sorry. Just one, teeny, tiny, tiny bad pun before I get my mad on.

"We are all worth more than the worst thing we have ever done." Sr. Helen Prejean

I'll start by saying that I have been viscerally repulsed by capital punishment since I was eight years old. I watched "A Man For All Seasons" about Sir Thomas More on the old b & w tv. I didn't understand much about it, but I sure did catch that they executed him at the end. I was inconsolable for hours. I guess even my eight year old self understood how wrong it was for the state to kill. Because it is.

It never hurts to run these statistics out every once in a while just to remind us that the justice system fails many, many people: two out of three death penalty cases are overturned in appeal, African-Americans account for more than 40% of death row inmates, but only 12% of the population, and let's not forget the role that poverty and access to competent defense have.

I have been close to two capital punishment cases in my life, so please don't tell me I would feel differently if my family member or I were involved. I didn't. I don't.

So, yay New Mexico legislature and Gov. Richardson!

Well. That was bracing. Ok, shake it off. Step off the soap box.

So, did Rachel seem tonight? Or is it just me and the lo-def tv machine?


  1. There is one more statistic about the death penalty that people don't usually pay attention to: it costs much more to prosecute, defend, and appeal death penalty cases than life in prison cases, even when you take into account the cost of housing and caring for a prisoner for life.

    Rachel was orange last night. I'm guessing there is a sunburn under her make-up.

  2. I would like to think that, even if faced with the violent death of a loved one, that I would retain my humanity and still oppose the death penalty.