So, state killed a man. Are we any safer?
The state of Nebraska killed a man. Do you feel safer?
The governor told us that it was necessary for public safety and protecting the lives of those who work in the Department of Corrections. Besides, said he who gave $300,000 to a petition drive to put the death penalty issue before voters, it was the will of the people.
Carey Dean Moore was executed 39 years after he was convicted of killing two Omaha men. The 60-year-old had been behind bars that long. So, explain to me how killing him now acts as a deterrent?
He was another guy behind bars and corrections officers deal with them every day. Do they feel safer with one less incarcerated person in a system that is tragically overcrowded?
Moore was killed with a four-drug protocol never before used in executions. The State Department of Corrections’ Director Scott Frakes, Attorney General Doug Peterson and Governor Pete Ricketts all refused to disclose details behind the protocol or where they obtained the drugs. They were apparently in a hurry to get this done because one of the drugs expires at the end of the month.
Of course, Ricketts and Peterson are both up for re-election. But, (rolling eyes) that couldn’t be the reason.
Ricketts, a practicing Catholic, defied the anti-death penalty stand of Pope Francis and the Nebraska Catholic Bishops. He again defaulted to the will of the people.
Stop for a minute and remember that the issue has been debated for 27 years. Lawmakers voted to repeal it in 2015. Ricketts vetoed that bill and lawmakers overrode the veto in a move that cost three of them re-election after Ricketts contributed money to their challenger’s campaigns. Then came the big cash donation to the pro-death penalty group.
As I have said before, there is apparently nothing illegal about Governor Deep Pockets putting his money where he wants to. But there IS a disturbing pattern here. If he doesn’t get his way, he throws money at it. Apparently, money is power.
But, let’s get back to the death penalty. Drug companies have filed suit in at least 14 states seeking to stop lethal injections on the grounds that they make pharmaceuticals to help people, not to kill them. Since electrocution has been ruled cruel and unusual punishment, that pretty much leaves firing squad or hanging as the only options.
Never forget that the state hanged an innocent man, William Marion, back in 1887. We know he was innocent because the alleged victim was seen alive in 1891.
Of course, there’s mandatory life in prison. Moore was a good example of how that can work out. Lawmakers seemed to think it was a good idea back in 1979 and 1999 and 2007 and 2015. I can’t understand why it isn’t still a good idea.
Recently, 14 former prison administrators from other states, many with firsthand experience in carrying out the death penalty, asked to intervene in a U.S. Supreme Court appeal by a death-row inmate in Missouri. They cited the emotional toll it takes on prison workers involved in the “face-to-face” duty as another reason to end capital punishment.
“Such executions do not serve the state’s interests in finality or justice,” their legal brief read. “Instead they make public servants parties to barbarism.”
I do NOT want to diminish the murder victims in all this, be it the two people Moore killed or the three Robert E. Williams killed or the two that John Joubert killed or the one that Harold Lamont Otey killed.
That loss of life was senseless and has taken a toll on the families that most of us will likely never understand. The fact that more attention seems to be paid to the accused than the victims is also a matter of concern and distress.
I used to be a death penalty supporter. Yes, I understand the public safety argument because I received a death threat after I wrote the crime story about Williams’ two murders in Lincoln. The threat came from a “friend” of Williams. But, it was unnerving and one probably couldn’t have blamed me for feeling better when he was behind bars.
That was early in a career that saw me spend lengthy time in courts and prisons, covering stories and starting to understand what has become a very, very flawed system.
Just look at the resistance to disclose the drug protocol in the Moore case. I am not comfortable thinking that this was something concocted by reading Wikipedia or drawn on a napkin by a couple of Corporals visiting with Director Frakes. The origin of the drugs is also troubling.
One last thing, the lack of transparency is unacceptable. Always will be. That’s why I drastically changed my stand on the death penalty, which I now oppose.
Moore and Williams both became Christians. Williams wrote a letter forgiving Governor Ben Nelson for voting for his execution as part of the Pardon Board. As he was led to the electric chair, he reportedly said, “I’m going home.” Moore’s pastor said he was ready as well.
Former Associate Warden Larry Wayne put it in perspective.
“Spiritually, as a Christian, I just don’t believe in capital punishment — even Carey Dean Moore,” Wayne said. “He was brought into the world as part of God’s plan. When he goes out, it ought to be God’s doing, not man’s.”
Carey Dean Moore was killed by the State of Nebraska. Are we any better for it?