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John Grisham and the Death Penalty

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

On October 14th, an opinion piece by the best-selling author John Grisham was published in the Raleigh newspaper News & Observer and it triggered some thoughts. As I want to get this blog started, I’ll try to put them to paper.

The article was, again, about the problems with people here having unfair trials and that the death penalty should go away etc. What irks me, as always, is that the many problems are acknowledged, to a certain degree, but the reasons and people that cause these problems are not discussed or pursued in a way that would enact fundamental change. Abolishing the death penalty only to continue to condemn people to life sentences because of the same corrupt practices and people accomplishes nothing. That much of our discussion is just about abolishing the death penalty and not about fixing the underlying causes and confronting those responsible is part of the problem – and part of the reason why the USA has the highest prison population in the world. Those who think about overturning the death penalty and “just” condemn a person to a life in prison need to think about what that means. Think about how it would be to exist in this environment you would never want yourself or your loved ones to be in under any circumstances.

To me, “being against the death penalty” seems to be a way to be part of some kind of moral movement. And that’s fine. Our trials suck and it’s good to see that people find killing potentially innocent people morally repugnant. But I worry that the attention grabbing part here is the “killing”, not the “potentially innocent”. Don’t just care about the death penalty. Care about the corruption and injustice of the system. And please, don’t just care about it in some abstract manner, actually make something happen to go after those who cause this to happen.

I know it might sound strange that someone on death row might say that, but I do not want to be moved from death row to life without parole. I want a fair trial. I want a chance to show I'm innocent.

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