Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shouting from the roof tops

Texas likes to pretend they're more American than America. So much so when the rest of America took a step back to sanity with Obama, Texas' governor actually muttered thoughts about secession.

Texas also executes more people in the US than any other state. They dislike people telling them not to do it - it's their lynching party and they'll cry if they want to - and as such they have put a number of hurdles in the way of any prisoner daring to challenge the sentence they've been handed down.

Recently the New Yorker had a long article about an executed Texan inmate - who went to the gurney protesting his innocence even while resigned to his fate - who received this penalty for the crime of immolating his three daughters in a house fire.

You can see the article here.

Essentially the broad thrust of the piece is that the man was likely innocent - and his was found guilty on forensic arson evidence and investigatory skill that was, as one of America's pre-eminent fire investigators stated when reviewing the evidence, akin to that of a psychic or mystic - using Fire behavior lore based not in science and empiricism, but learning at the knee of an old timer fire investigator.

Willingham, the con, unfortunately had his final appeal based on this scientific re-evaluation of the evidence, completely ignored by the panel in Texas that confirms whether an execution should stand.

Justice Scalia of the US Supreme Court, one of the rightist ideologue jurists shoe-horned by Bush into the court, and famed Death Penalty proponent, said recently there has not been "a single case - not one - in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops."

Isn't it great how the high and mighty have to eat crow.

So the US National Coalition Against the Death Penalty are indeed "shouting from the rooftop" about this case.

The US has seen numerous Death Row inmates found subsequently not guilty and released while on the journey from existing until death. How an intelligent first world country can still embrace the death penalty - from a moral, legal, or even logical viewpoint - is beyond me.

How awful must it have been for that man to be executed for the deaths of his daughters from a tragic accidental house fire. How just gut wrenchingly awful. That poor man and his poor family.


  1. I read that New Yorker article a week or two ago. Plus a couple of articles on the despicable, corrupt and underhanded way Texas governor Rick Perry has behaved in covering up and smothering an investigation into Willingham's innocence.

    It's sick and sad that there's still a chance that even this case might not be able to bring down the death penalty in the US.

  2. It's ingrained in US culture I think, the hang'em high ethos. They've never had the naval gazing Europe and every other western English speaking country had on the issue.


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