Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Reflections on an execution

Dave Atwood, board member and co-founder of TCADP and a former NCADP board member, had the following wonderful letter published in the Huntsville Item. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to share:

Reflections On an Execution

James Allridge was executed on August 26, 2004, for the murder of Brian Clendennen in Ft. Worth many years ago. This was the 325th execution in Texas since the death penalty was resumed in the state in 1982. We have about 460 people on our death row and ten more executions are scheduled before the end of the year.

James Allridge caused Brian Clendennen and his family horrific pain and suffering that most of us can't comprehend. However, by executing James Allridge, we created another set of victims, the Allridge Family, who now have experienced the same horrific pain and suffering as the Clendennen Family. Both families deserve our prayers and support.

I was one of six witnesses for James during the execution. James included me because I had been visiting him on death row for many years. Personally, I have never experienced anything so evil in all my life - strapping a live human being to a guerney and pumping poison into his veins. I felt like I was in Nazi Germany.

James was a rehabilitated person who had become an accomplished artist and writer while in prison. He was remorseful for the crime he committed as a young man many years ago. His execution was senseless and satisfied no valid societal goal. He was a model prisoner and mentor for other prisoners on death row. If given a life sentence and placed in the prison's general population, he could have been a very positive influence on other prisoners. However, his execution sends a strong message that rehabilitation and good behavior are, in the long run, not important to the State of Texas.

James' execution will not bring true closure or healing to the family of Brian Clendennen. They will always have a painful wound. Only love and forgiveness can bring a semblance of peace.

James' execution will not deter other crimes or make us a better, safer society. We would be better off addressing the root causes of crime such as child abuse and neglect, mental disabilities and negative peer pressure rather than putting so much energy and money into the death penalty, which is truly a false solution to crime.


dfgdthnnbd said...

Is life imprisonment any better than death? Remember Patrick Henry? "Give me liberty or give me death". What would be the point of living in a cell for the rest of your life? That wouldn't be living, it would just be waiting for death.

Another point. Remember "Son of Sam"? Berkowitz was origianlly from Florida where they have the death penalty. He actually said he moved to NY to commit his murders because there was no death penalty. So, it looks like the death penalty would prevent some crimes.

Besides, if someone murders one of mine and they get the death penalty...they can cry me a river.


Jeffery said...

I agree, I think our prisons whould become harsher. Don't kill them, throw them in a dark cell and let their brains rot. Why should we give them the pleasure of a quick punishment? Let them rot in jail, forever.