Today we bring you a rather clever letter to the editor that appeared in the Birmingham News. It is written by Esther Brown, who is with our Alabama affiliate, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty:
Danny Lemley, a former assistant district attorney now in private practice, said: "Luther (Williams) is why they have the death penalty."
It is not too often I find myself in agreement with an assistant district attorney, former or still active, but Lemley hit the nail on the head with the above statement. Yes, Williams could indeed be a poster child for why we have the death penalty in Alabama: He is black and poor, and the victim was white. Not only that, but Williams himself was an innocent victim as a child when he was abandoned by his parents. But what does self-righteous, vengeful Alabama care about that? Add to that Williams' being in the ninth grade at age 20. And people don't think there are mental retardation issues?
We all love to talk about justice, but all too often when we do, we mean just us. Justice means a level playing field. In this case, as in all the other death penalty cases, it means enough money for an adequate defense and all necessary tests. If Alabama cannot afford that, we cannot ethically afford the death penalty, unless we want to do as one of my legislators suggested to me - take them out and shoot them all. Now, why does that remind me of Alabama's history?
Executive director, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty
Chairwoman, Alabama NAACP Death Penalty/Moratorium Committee