The Death Penalty ~~ Karla Faye Tucker
Someone very wise said to me
Never discuss politics or religion. Just don't do it. Unless you dare....
Someone gave me that admonition once. And I am unable to follow it.
While actually I think that is probably a good idea. But there are times when I feel I need to risk the words that may come my way when, no matter what, both must be addressed. The death penalty is both a political issue and a religious one for obvious reasons.
Karla Faye Tucker was given the death penalty for the crime she committed. Frank Smith was given the death penalty for a crime he did not commit.
What a wonderful world this would be if members of a jury never had to choose to assign the death penalty ever again.
If all crimes, horrific in nature, never were to happen again how life on our planet would change.— unknown
Creating a scenario to test my beliefs
As you are reading these words you have already taken your stand on this topic.
In order for me to honestly discuss this topic I had to do some soul searching. And admittedly even though I will share the scenario with you, I think I know how I would want to respond but as I have not lived through a nightmare such as this, I cannot be 100% certain.
I am at home working in my garden, reading a book, or composing on my laptop. Suddenly I hear knocking at my front door or hear a call across the yard.."Ms. Scott, Ms. Scott. I turn and across the lawn comes two uniformed police men.
And they begin..."Ms. Scott, we are so sorry..." And I can no longer fully comprehend what is being said. My Aunt, my uncle, and my cousins Ned and Bettie are all dead...all of them, at their home, just around the corner from my house. And I heard nothing. I was carefree, enjoying the task at hand.
Murdered. Later I find it was brutal, senseless as all murders are. Was it a drifter passing through our town? Our homes are just off 441 which is still a major thoroughfare through small rural areas.
And my reaction would be:"Find who did this".
I would want whoever it was to be punished. Would I want that person or those persons put to death? Initially I think, "Yes. Take their life like they took the lives of my loved ones."
The death penalty is obviously a divisive one. But whether one is for or against it, one cannot deny the basic logic~~if we know the system is flawed, if we know there are innocent people on Death Row, then until the system is reformed, should we not abandon the death penalty to protect those who are innocent?— Richard LaGravenese
Do you favor the death penalty?
♠♠♠Thnking about it when I am calmer, I realize that I would not want the death penalty. No, I would want them to spend the rest of their lives in prison, denied the freedom to walk around and live their lives. Yes, they would still have life but they would have a daily reminder of what they did.
They may feel no remorse or sadness or sorrow for me or those of us who loved my family but they would be paying every single day for what they did.
Death would be too easy, too quick I would want them to reminded of the choice they made that caused them to be there in prison, locked away from their friends. From all I read, that is not a place anyone would want to be.
This is what I think I would do, what I would want. But, I do not know.the thankfully I have never had to face the horror that the loss of my family would mean and I pray I never face that decision.
Karla Faye Tucker took the life of someone in a brutal crime and for that she received the ultimate punishment: death by lethal injection.
No system is perfect
While I say that our justice system is flawed that does not mean that I am trashing my country. I have a deep abiding love for this country but part of my responsibility as a citizen is to recognize what has weaknesses and try to make a difference to help correct it.
I know very little about the justice systems in other country so cannot speak about them. My only real frame of reference is ours. If I do not speak out about what I see is in need of improvement then I need to keep my mouth shut and not complain. No justice system is perfect..and perfect is not what is needed in most cases. However when it comes to determining if someone will live or die, perfection is required.
Our justice system is flawed.
Too many people have been on death row, awaiting execution, and then been exonerated due to DNA testing. Too many have been executed and later it was found they were innocent.
I was forced to look at this from the accused, the convicted, who await their death sentence and know they are not guilty. Their grief and their anguish would be unimaginable.
Knowing that a horrible crime was committed and you sat in prison, watching the hours tick away, the days turn to night and back to day again, drawing ever closer to the day of your execution is beyond comprehension.|| Knowing that your opportunities to appeal have run out or are running out. And you are innocent.
The families of that person who is so loved does everything they can to try to intervene to try to stop the execution. Often they are unsuccessful, but sometimes justice comes. Sometimes it comes but the person dies of an illness before they can be released.
For those who are released, found not guilty, no one can give back the years that were stolen from them: watching their children play baseball, perform in a school play, see their report cards, attend graduation, marriage, and even memorial services for loved ones who die while they are incarcerated.
Our justice system is flawed. Not only does it not always work, it may be safe to say that too often it does not work well.
Karla Faye Tucker was not exonerated. She was guilty of a grisly murder, was given the death sentence----her life was asked for and received in return when she was executed. But her execution met with controversy that still brings discussion today.
Our criminal justice system is fallible. We know it, even though we don't like to admit it. It is fallible despite the best efforts of most within it to do justice. And this fallibility is, at the end of the day, the most compelling, persuasive, and winning argument against a death penalty.— Eliot Spitzer
A few months ago I watched the movie Forevermore which is about Karla Faye Tucker's life on death row.
I do not often recommend movies. This however is one that moved me as much the second time that I viewed it as it did the first time.
God found Karla Faye. It was life changing for her and those who came in contact with her while she was on death row.
She became what she knew
Reading of Karla Faye Tucker, a young woman arrested, convicted, sentenced to the death penalty, and executed for a horrific crime is the impetus behind this article. After reading how her life changed after she was imprisoned, this seemed to me to be a story that all should know.
Her youth had been troubled like the lives of so many others. Her mother was a prostitute who was drug addicted. Karla Faye began to use drugs at age eight When she was only eleven, her mother's boy friend taught her to use drugs using a needle. Her mother lead her into prostitution at a very young age teaching her that was the way to make money, using sex.
By the time she was in her twenties her life had descended further into the depths of depravity. In a drug crazed frenzy she murdered two people with a pick-axe. Subsequently she wound up on death row.
From all that I have read about death row it is not a place where redemption will be found. But that is just what happened to Karla Faye. Within the walls of the Mountain View Unit of the Department of Corrections at Gatesville, Texas, God found Karla Faye.
I'm not in favor of the death penalty. But I'm in favor of locking these people away in maximum security units where they can never get out. They can never escape. They can never be paroled. Lock the bad ones away. But you gotta rethink everybody else.— John Grisham
Age old controversy
Jailhouse conversions are not uncommon. Many who are imprisoned say they have found God. No one is in a position to question whether that is true or not.
God found Karla Faye while she was incarcerated. He grabbed hold of her and her life was transformed.
This young woman who had gone on a rampage in a haze of drugs murdering with no thought about what she was doing found new life in Christ.
She was indeed transformed and she was in awe of this God who knew of her sins and who forgave her. Not only did He forgive her but He loved her. She spoke of His love and how it had made her life have new meaning.
She ministered to others after God forgave her and gave meaning and purpose to her life.
On the evening when she was killed, the sheriff who had been involved in her arrest said of Karla..."I do not know who we just killed tonight (speaking of her execution) but it was not the Karla Faye Tucker that we arrested."
An interview with Karla Faye
I support the death penalty. But I also think there has to be no margin for error.
(Even a supporter has some concern......)— George Ryan
Death penalty or not??
Efforts were made to have her death sentence overturned and for her to receive life imprison with no possibility of parole. But those efforts failed.
I do not know the whole story, for sure. I only know what I have read about her. With the limited information I have, it seems to me that restitution for her heinous act would be made by her witnessing to others, sharing her wisdom about choosing a better life rather than the one that lead her to that place, would have been a way to pay back in some small way for what she had done.
As far as the death penalty itself is concerned, my belief is that if one more person is to die who is on death row that is not guilty, that is reason enough to see that it is never used again.
Florida passes law to speed up death row executions
" House Bill 7083 — the Timely Justice Act of 2013 — would make a series of changes to try to reduce delays and end what one lawmaker described as gamesmanship in post-conviction proceedings.
The bill passed the Florida House last week, cleared the Senate on Monday and now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for his consideration.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, would shorten appeals time and take execution decisions away from the governor.
Other changes include forcing an order of execution by the governor within six months after state and federal appeals are exhausted and the capital clemency process is completed."
Does this mean that more innocent people will die due to the hastening of the process to execute??
Frank Lee Smith: born a victim
Frank Lee Smith was arrested, tried, and convicted of raping and murdering an eight year old girl. He sat on death row for many years, losing appeal after appeal.
His story is one that is very similar to that of others, too many others, who were wrongfully convicted and sent to death row.
He grew up in poverty never having the basics that most of us take for granted. He was neglected and abused and suffered two serious head injures as a child. When he was just three, he was in a bar with his Mother when a fight broke out. He was hit on his head so hard during the fight that his brain tissue was exposed. Later his head was injured again when he was a teen.
As a child his Father was shot and killed not long after Frank was born to a fourteen year old Mother. Frank, his siblings, and his Mother eventually moved to Ft Lauderdale.
No safe place for Frank
.After the move life did not improve. Our homes are our refuge, our safe place, away from life's slings and arrows. Such was not the case for Frank. After moving, the home he shared with his siblings was often a haven for those who had already chosen a life of violence. The safety net Frank needed was never to be.
His Mother had turned to prostitution as she had no skills or training to secure a job that would help her care for her family which she was ill equipped to do. By his seventh birthday life at home was no more than a room to come to at some point in the day. His Mother was deemed unfit and he was placed in foster care and would one day find himself in the care of his grandmother. Things were no better for Frank. The safe place for Frank fell further and further from him..
Too little, too late for Frank...
Frank never knew it but he was exonerated. That would never come until almost a year after his death in prison on January 30, 2000, from cancer. DNA proved him innocent. The real perpetrator had been Eddie Mosley who was already in a prison for mentally challenged individuals in Gainesville, Florida.
Four years after Frank had been found guilty of the crime, the young woman who had originally identified him recanted, saying he was not the man and correctly identified Eddie Mosley. Mosley had a much lengthier and more involved ciriminal history than Frank.
But that did not change things for Frank.
No chance to live a normal life
As the years ticked away, the child who had never known love and affection found himself on the wrong side of the law. He spent time in a boy's home in Okeechobee that was overcrowded and where "hog-tying of young boys, sexual abuse, and cruel treatment" were not uncommon.
Life never got any better for Frank after that.
His life essentially ended the day he was arrested for the murder of Shandra Whitehead, an eight year old child.
Ironically, the degree of Frank's mental health problems would not be known until he was evaluated in prison. Among the conditions uncovered that he suffered from was schizophrenia.
A young woman identified him as the person she saw in the neighborhood shortly before Shandra was murdered. No eyewitnesses saw him actually kill this young child. No other evidence was found linking him to the crime. But he was an easy target since he had been in and out of the juvenile detention center and later served 15 years for murder. He received a life sentence but was released after 15 years. He vowed he would never return to prison.
Then Shandra was killed..
After his conviction he would spend the rest of his life in jail on death row.
My concern for those on death row is not for the guilty in 99% of the cases.. It is for the innocent who are trying to have their innocence recognized.
My concern is also for someone who commits a heinous crime who can make a difference in the lives of others while incarcerated being allowed to live and perhaps help change the lives of others.
For your consideration....
This article has been one that has caused me to do the most soul-searching of any that I have written. As I stated earlier in this article, I tried to put myself in the position of someone who has lost a loved one through murder. And I could not effectively do it even though I created a scenario because I had not had that horrific experience and pray I never do. But I stated how I think I would want the end to come for the perpetrator of such a crime.
Likewise, I tried to put myself in the position of a family like Frank Smith, as dysfunctional as they seemed to be (and of course I only know about them from what I have read), and I know my heart would be broken if my loved one had wasted away in jail, died there, only to be exonerated eleven months after death and truthfully I would be mad as hell!!
This topic affects each of us because mistaken identity can put anyone in jail. Sometimes it seems you are guilty until proven innocent.
This article isn't about agreeing with me or not...it is about thinking about how our justice system works and deciding if you want to have a voice in trying to make it work better than it does.
Too often we complain about how things work but we fail to step up to the plate and let those in power know our concerns and what we want corrected.
This is a polarizing topic and often a line is drawn in the sand and we dare someone to cross over. We know how we feel, we know how we believe, and that is that. If all you gain from reading this is that you assess your thinking on the topic that is something.
There must be severe consequences to deter the commission of crimes. It just does not seem that the death penalty is getting the job done.
We need to consider the topic and contact legislators accordingly. Florida is speeding up the process to execute.
That makes chills run up and down my spine.
© 2013 Patricia Scott