|from David Goff's article:|
"... a long list of men and women
in America who were convicted of crimes they did not commit. ..."
WHAT PRICE WE PAY
David Goff #999015
One man walks out of prison after 17 years.
Guerra joins a long list of men and women
in America who were convicted of crimes they did not commit and who later
were released due to questions of their actual guilt.
He was not paroled. He did
But after almost two decades, the charges against him were
What makes this event of more interest is the fact that his home
away from home for those 17 years was a cell on Texas' Death Row.
Adape Guerra maintained for 17 years that he did not commit the crime of
the murder of a police officer, for which he was convicted.
many did not believe him.
That was until almost 12 years had passed,
when evidence of his innocence began to catch the attention of those who
genuinely cared about justice.
Currently over 19
individuals across America on death row are on the verge of joining Guerra
in obtaining their freedom and an estimated 200 non-capital sentenced individuals;
convicted of serious crimes, will be exonerated within the next year.
the system of justice has shifted to the place where it is fashionable
to convict the innocent as well as the guilty, in fear that the guilty
may go free.
This is totally contrary to the traditional concept of justice
in America. A concept that holds "it is more just that ten guilty
men go free than for one innocent man to be convicted".
Yes, the voice
of the victim cries loudly and should be heard, but in America's rush to
"feel their pain", the rights of all are being circumvented.
One must remember that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written
in order to protect the individual rights of America's citizens from a
government that could and, eventually at times, would run amok.
of the individual's rights has historically been shown to victimize society
as a whole.
In the strong push to expand the power of the State, the rights
of the individual have become insignificant.
While the issue of the death
penalty becomes the rallying cry for all who wish to control crime, get
elected, or attempt to soothe the pain of victimization; it is hard to
see justice in the laws passed.
If prisoners themselves speak testaments
to the societies in which they are housed, then no doubt a nation's ultimate
punishment and its administration must define the hearts and minds of its
One senator stated that the conviction and execution of an innocent
individual is the price that we all pay to live in a democratic society.
This logic seems to have been embraced by a number of people in power,
yet it is faulty reasoning.
If democracy does not set the corner stones
of its foundation as truth, justice, freedom, and fairness, then it is
not worthy of human inclusion within any society.
It would be better that
a totalitarian system be allowed to control the masses openly, than that
a system of government continue to hide behind the guise of true freedom.
One could theorize that the death penalty has cost more innocent lives
than any war fought, on any shore, by any nation.
For if history in the
end records only one innocent man or woman executed under the color of
the State, then that one death amounts to millions, even billions. It is
simply a mistake for a nation to judicially, indifferently, and casually
take the life of a potentially innocent person. It is wrong.
if this must be the price to live in a democracy, as defined by America's
leaders, then the price is too high.
What manner of human being, with a
clear conscience, would even consider to proclaim or embrace such an absurd
and corrupt view of democracy?
Such beliefs echo those of Mussolini and
Stalin, "what is one life compared to the lives of many". This
was not a question, but their concept of the systems of government under
which the people would be subjected.
Randle Adams, Maurice Deebs, Clarence Brandley, Ricardo Guerra, and
Kerry Cook are but a few names of individuals who within the last ten
to twelve years have escaped one of the most notorious systems of capital
punishment since reinstatement of the death penalty.
Common reasoning would dictate that quite a number of
individuals were innocent yet executed before exoneration, and, no doubt,
countless may even now sit on death row, who are innocent.
Each were convicted
and sentenced to death.
Each came within hours of their execution, and
each was innocent.
If this is what
democracy requires, then the price "must be" too high for those
committed to truth, justice, freedom, and the concept of fairness. The
death penalty must end.
For in a society such as America, that is politically,
economically, socially, and racially motivated, the potential for error
is far too great and the price too high.
David Goff is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lamp of Hope.