It was the biggest terrorist attack in our countryís
history. It was the most publicized FBI case in recent times.
Even with the spotlight beaming so brightly on this case, the
FBI still made mistakes. The Death Penalty is rare in federal
cases so one would think they would pay particularly close
attention to the details, especially considering a case of
this magnitude and the publicity it has received.
These were not minor mistakes either, but 3,000 pages of
misplaced or lost pages of testimony and evidence. If such a
catastrophic event can breed such carelessness with the most
respected government agency in law enforcement, then think how easy a lone
murder case can be bereft with errors. How can we, with clear
conscious support the death penalty when we know there are
inherent flaws that increase the possibilities for error?
The recent events in the McVeigh Case sheds light on what is
wrong with the death penalty. The thousands of pages of lost evidence
are precisely why I worry that death penalty convictions are not
always accurate. If this much chaos is discovered in this highly
publicized case of national defense concern, then how fair can
the cases be concerning a poor man without reasonable defense in
Mississippi? What about the black man in the mostly white
suburb of Texas? Itís what we call a
twenty-first century lynching, George W. Bush style.
be no public apologies for found evidence in a murder case of
such low importance. It would be swept quietly under the rug
because after all, he wouldnít amount to much, and he is
probably a criminal with nothing to give back to society anyway.
One defense attorney for the state of Colorado complains
that he has almost one hundred cases pending and how can he give
the attention that one manís life deserves. We do not have
time to worry about the poor, the disadvantaged, the people who
do not look rich, white and male, the people who do not have
enough money to have a just chance in our justice system. This
is a shame and a sin, and something should be done about it.
I have very little doubt in my mind that McVeigh bombed the
Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. I am not in
agreement with his "moral mission." But I am
about the reliability in cases that result in the death
penalty. I am asking you to put you emotions aside about the nineteen
children and the one hundred and sixty-eight victims. With
them in mind it is difficult to look at this case rationally.
why the death penalty picks up so much momentum during events
such as these.
It is obvious to us that this man
must pay. As a society we are filled with hate. Yes, thatís
the word. We are angry at what he did. We are repulsed by the
disregard of human life. We are disgusted that he has no
remorse. And we want him to pay. Yes, pay dearly with his life,
like his victims did. That feeling in
your stomach when you think about this man and his deed; that
blood reaching your heart, seeping upward into your head as you
read stories about "survivors"; those feelings of how
unfair life can be to so many of Godís children; thatís
hate. We are filled with hate and we hate the fact that this one
man is responsible for these feelings within us. Yes, he has to
pay. Letís kill him.
I am arguing for putting this
hate aside and coming to rational options to ending the life of
one of Godís children. We may not want to admit that he is one
of Godís children because that forces us to see him in a
different light. Yes, he is one of our bothers and deserves to
live. Does he deserve to be let free? Definitely not.
deserves to be locked away and given medical attention. Isnít
it obvious to everyone that he is a sick man? He needs help and
as a society we have to stop sweeping our sick, disenfranchised
and poor people out of the way. It is time we stop cleaning the
facades of our buildings and look for true cures to our
difficult problems. It is time to stop looking for the quick
fixes like killing our criminals.
These men must be
rehabilitated and better yet, given a chance before it gets this
far. Albert Schweitzer said, "It is better to build
children than to repair men." All our children deserve an
equal education, an equal chance for success. Letís start
looking into our societiesí faults and come up with real
It is time we love all our
children, not just the fortunate few. Itís time we confront
our problems and not just put them in the closet. For now the
closet is closed, but it will not be long before we will be
forced to do some soul cleaning.
When the State Kills: Capital
Punishment and the American Condition.
by Austin Sarat
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