Where’s The Justice?
As I’ve pondered the unbelievable act of Josh Powell, with his wife and two children, I’ve recalled one night when I saw a man killed. Oh, they called it an execution, but that’s just semantics to make us feel better, for it came down to the fact that it was a planned killing, and I watched it done.
And I think, as I did then, that one person can kill hundreds of people and be called a hero, with honors, medals and life time acclaim. Another kills but one person and is executed. And the only difference is the motive. For one it was home, country, ideals and down to the hard truth of ‘it’s either them or me.’ For the other it was passion, anger, perversion.
I was one of nine media people to witness the death of Arthur Gary Bishop. He was strapped to a gurney in a very temporary warehouse ‘room’. We saw three people, plus Bishop, a doctor, another dispensed the serum, and I suppose the Warden. And their motive? How can we know their motive? Their job? Good pay? Assigned to it? Volunteers?
I don’t know, and really didn’t care for that was their karma, not mine. I was there because, well, because there is that facet of Ethel that wants to see what is going on in the world; and secondly, there is also a part of Ethel that felt/feels a tremendous dichotomy between our moral code and what we actually do. And that part of Ethel wanted an answer as to why they differ so widely.
We’re taught from childhood to never take a life. So imbedded within us that we are shocked when we hit a cat, dog or bird with our car, and, when the Vet recommends ‘putting to sleep’ one of our loved, but ill, pets, we suffer.
The instinct to preserve life is so strong that after some horrible crime we spend untold dollars on trials and appeals, going into months and years before we can justify an execution. And even then, if possible, as in a gun fire execution, several men shoot guns, with all but one holding harmless ammo, so that no one can know that, “I killed him.”
And as Executions are becoming more and more illegal, and life imprisonment given, we’re finding that is not the answer, for now they/we are forced to build huge prisons to hold, you guessed it, the older ones who, in the outer world, would need to be in Care Centers. So once again, your taxes paid for those huge new prisons, your taxes pay for doctors, nurses, food, cooks, cleaners and such to maintain them
While, at the same time, there are millions (I like big numbers) of people who have never even run a red light, but need to be in a Care Center, and can’t afford one. We talk of justice, but where oh where is the justice here? And remember whose taxes pay for our prisons and their upkeep.
When I was a volunteer teacher at the Prison, one fellow, perhaps in his 50’s, said, “If they ever put me out of here, I’m going to commit a crime that very day, so they have to put me back. Out there I ate what I found in garbage cans, wore clothes I could find and slept in halls, and on sidewalks. I’ve never had it as good as I do here, and here I’m going to stay.”
Truth, truth. But getting back to Bishop, I was about 2 yards from his bare feet, and they were pink, clean, well padded, feet and I thought how sweet they must have been to his mother when he was a child. Yeah, but even as I watched, the serum took hold and in less than a minute, those pink feet, were deep purple-red. And the men had done their duty (job?) and killed him.
Yet, we execute people for ‘who they were’ and not for ‘who they are’. But how can we judge? We are not Solomon and many a parole board has been filled with horror, when, in good faith, they granted a parole, and then find the freed person again commits the same kind of horrendous crime. We are not that wise.
But, again, back to Bishop. He was given, as all such people are, every consideration during his last days. He was given any food he asked for, and even fast if he wished. Chosen visitors were allowed, calls could be taken and he even had the right to ask who, in his personal life, he wished to witness his death.
What a huge difference to the “consideration” Powell gave his victims. Children. Children, in our culture, who are taught to respect and obey adults, and are afraid of punishment if they don’t, They ran to greet their own father, yet once they entered that door, they were doomed and screamed as they were killed with a hatchet. And then burned.
Yes, I saw a man ‘killed’, for that’s what it is. IT was not an everyday occurrence for me or for anyone else there BUT I and have no regrets. I didn’t get answers and my seeking still stands, but I know full well that there was a ‘person’ in Bishop. A person like me, you, who thinks, feels, cries, laughs and loves. But, there it stops, for in them there must be some facet that is not in me, or you. Some facet that has no feeling for another’s suffering.
I had hoped that being a witness to an execution would help me clear my thinking and show me some solution, but it didn’t. Some answer for me, the system, and, yes, for those who commit such heinous crimes. And today, with Powell’s actions so clear on our minds, I wonder if there can ever be an answer. Perhaps him taking his own life was ‘the best answer’ but his son’s? His wife?
I pray for peace of mind for the families of the victims, which includes the parents, grandparents, friends, yes, and for the killer, too. I cannot give it to them, you cannot give it to them, all the laws and executions, or final Care Centers, cannot give it to them, for ultimately we’re all the same and what peace we find must come right from within ourselves. And there are no laws for such as that.