Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Murderer Shall Surely Be Put to Death Unless He's Rich and Powerful.

Texas has executed 19 people already in 2009, nearly half of the 39 executions in the US this year, and has executed 442 people since 1982, many of which are surrounded in controversy, especially Todd Willingham, the innocent man executed by Texas in 2004.

Khristian Oliver is the next man to face Texas sanctioned execution on November 5. He was found guilty of or a murder committed during a burglary in 1999. However, when deciding on whether Oliver should be put to death or life in prison, jurors read from scripture and this is what they read aloud:

"The murderer shall surely be put to death" and "The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer."

Another juror highlighted passages which she showed to a fellow juror: "And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, the murderer shall surely be put to death."
One juror said, "the Bible is truth from page 1 to the last page" and that "if civil law and biblical law were in conflict, the latter should prevail." 80% of the jury had "brought scripture into the deliberation".

A US federal appeals court acknowledged last year that the jurors' use of the Bible amounted to an "external influence" prohibited under the US Constitution, but nonetheless upheld the death sentence anyway.

If this man, who was sentenced to death by scripture, were a man of influence, power, status or wealth, that the federal appeals court would not have upheld the death sentence. In fact, he almost certainly would not have been sentenced to death in the first place.

Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of one human by another, especially under conditions characterized by deliberation premeditated malice. Premeditated is the operative word here and there is nothing more premeditated or deliberate than state sanctioned execution. Remove the word "unlawful" from the definition of murder and the death penalty would be the ultimate embodiment of murder.

However, just because something is "lawful" doesn't make it right or good. Laws are often created in the interests of the ruling class or elite, therefore the word "unlawful" means very little when you consider the mechanisms of power, and that the law itself that often becomes nothing more than a weapon wielded to maintain power and the kind of social order most beneficial to the ruling elite.

Double Tragedies: Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty For People with Severe Mental Illness

Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) is an international, non- governmental organization of family members of victims of criminal murder, terrorist killings, state executions, extrajudicial assassinations, and “disappearances” working to oppose the death penalty from a human rights perspective.

The blog of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights.

About 500 people attended the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 24, 2009 at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas.

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