I’m probably not going to change anyone’s mind on the death penalty, but I’m pretty angry and sad about last night’s execution in Texas — the 19th in the state this year. The death penalty is wrong, and it was excessive at best in this case.
We teach children that two wrongs don’t make a right, but the state kills people to show that it’s wrong to kill people. Death penalty advocates also need to remember that we are our government in a representative democracy, so the people of Texas executed Reginald Blanton last night.
The economic and legal arguments don’t hold up either.
The death penalty is not a deterrent. Texas has the most executions of any state, and cities with some of the highest crime rates in the nation.
It also costs more than a life sentence. There are studies that show cases where an execution appeals process cost less than the jail time and potential appeals if the prisoner had served a life sentence. The numbers were still close — too close to justify execution on economic grounds. And if you say there shouldn’t be the opportunity for more appeals, are you willing to give away your own rights to a fair judicial process.
On to the Reginald Blanton case. The state killed Blanton by lethal injection for allegedly killing Carlos Garza in Garza’s apartment. Here are my problems with the case:
• There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. The main evidence was a security camera tape from a pawn shop, where he was seen selling the victim’s jewelry 20 minutes after the slaying. Fairly damning, but not enough for a capital punishment case.
• If guilty, he killed a man in what was basically a botched robbery. A vicious crime, to be sure, but execution is excessive. Capital punishment should be applied to the most heinous crimes, if it must be applied at all.
• If deterrence is the justification, I don’t see how Blanton’s death deters others from being stupid enough to pull the trigger when he’s startled by a person he didn’t think was home.
This song is from “Dead Man Walking,” and it’s from the perspective of a warden who must administer lethal injection.