Monday, 16 July 2012

Bees in my bonnet

We all need bees in our bonnets. Not literally, of course (I've found that one bee in my hair is quite enough to deal with). But things that get us worked up, and that we really care about.

I have two major bees. The first is the current state of the nursing profession (I've just posted on my neglected Blog, Real Nurse Campaign, and that's made me feel a whole lot better.

The other, as anyone who reads this blog will probably know, is the death penalty, and especially the treatment of prisoners on some of America's death rows.

My prisoner correspondent writes fluently and heart-breakingly about how it feels no longer to be treated as human. He will probably never touch another humnan being again (prisoners aren't even allowed to hug their families before they die). He is just a number. In April, his best friend was executed, and he says that the following weeks were "hell on wheels". He (the executed man) had friends and a family. My penfriend (who has neither) wrote:

He had a life worth saving. I on the other hand have nothing. A bucket full of phantoms. Would I have traded places with him if it meant him living to be free? Yes. That doesn't make me noble in the least. But I would give him that.

He went without food for four days to write me that letter, because he couldn't afford the money for a stamp. I know this is true, because all prisoners' letters are censored. And he wasn't hinting for money, because when I sent him some, he was upset because he didn't want to be treated as a "charity". He asked me not to send any more.

I am not sentimental. I know that what he did (if indeed he did it) was very wrong. But condemning a man to year after year of solitary confinement, leading a totally useless life, followed by the awful ritual of the death chamber (sometimes after several last-minutes stays of execution) can hardly be the answer. Can it?

8 comments:

  1. The Death Penalty might, and I emphasize might, be effective were it reserved for the most heinous of crimes, and were it carried out in fairness.

    As it is, many condemned men have obtained their respective releases due to errant or previously inadmissible evidence, and that's not even counting those those freed by DNA evidence.

    Our society is hell bent of revenge rather than rehabilitation. Ergo, why they let a man or woman remain on Death Row or so long baffles me. It seems to me that in part it is because languishing in a small cell for countless years is a punishment worse than death.

    Too, I can understand the victims side as well. But there has to be a better way.

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    1. Thank you for you thuoghtful reply. I totally agree with what you say. Of course murderers have to be punished, but to be punished for years, with no hope of encoutagement or redemption is at least, a terrible waste of time and money; at worst, barbaric. I believe that many may be innocent, as they cannot afford good legal representation.

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  2. Regarding the death penalty, I'm torn. I and my family have been the victim of another family member's violent behavior. Each time he got out of prison, his anger played out in violence. In the last few years I have been his target. It's one of the reasons I moved to Mexico. He can't get me here. I remember each time he was in prison, how remorseful he was. But each case, each prisoner is different. And each person has a soul worth saving.

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    1. This must have been a terrifying experience, and you have my sympathy.I have worked with victims of domestic violence, where similar promises are repeatedly made and broken. Of course people must be punished. The problem with Death Row is that the punishment goes on interminably, and the prisoners are treated like animals while awaiting their ultimate punishment. Some go mad. One man tore out and swallowed his own eye. They have no employment or education. They just wait. And wait...

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  3. As America seems hell bent on interfering in other countries and their barbaric ways, I wonder how they get away with treating prisoners on death row like this.

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  4. It's one of the most inhumane things on the planet - sounds like a living death. I'm not in favour of Capital punishment, as someone might just be innocent. But if they must deal with the worst offenders in this way, why don't they get it over with at once.

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    1. Exactly how I feel, Rosemary. Thanks for commenting.

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