The Facts – as far as they have been presented to me.
Texas slated to inflict its 500th state-imposed death penalty next week on a 51 year old Black woman – formerly briefly married to the founder of the New Black Panther party. She is alleged to have murdered her neighbor (a retired professor) for crack cocaine. There is testimony entered during her trial by a police officer stating that she promised to confess to the crime if she would acquire crack cocaine for the confession. She had previously (after asking for counsel’s presence and being denied) stated that two other people had done it.
The first death penalty verdict (1 hour) was overturned on appeal, and a second trial again yielded a death penalty verdict after 3 hours.
We need some critical thinking here – as in logical functional analysis. Although I wasn’t present in the jury room, I somehow doubt that, in the course of 1 to 3 hours, all of the relevant Venn diagrams were analyzed. What to do when the justice system fails?
The problem is the only apparent option left for the Governor is to pardon. The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case (in some ways, declining the press). This puts Perry in the very awkward position of having to defend “his” justice system with the taking of a “potentially wrongfully convicted” individual’s life. In fact, the position he is in would require him to “take action” to not defend it. I’m tired of the manipulation. I can’t say one way or another whether this person did this, but I can notice that there is enough power involved in this case for theatrics and rigged juries.
I find the timing and number of the case compelling. It coincides with a possible Supreme Court ruling on the issue of affirmative action, as well as the Trayvon Martin case. Was race a factor in this case? I think that crack cocaine can cause some people to lose respect for their own life, and presumably also, the life of others. If McCarthy in fact did commit the crime (and there is significant doubt in my mind in spite of any reasonable evidence), the addiction in her case would seem to me to be the driving force toward “extremist” behavior. Addiction doesn’t excuse a murder (nor does being a woman with the images of mental and emotional weakness that this conjures up in some communities), but neither does acquiring confessions from people who are addicted to a substance in the absence of that substance, amount to anything less than “waterboarding”, in my opinion. My point at this stage of events is to note that the forces involved in either the McCarthy or Martin case seem larger than any human being is expected to be able to manage alone (I am also not suggesting that Martin’s case involved addiction, but rather possibly an individual tragically subject to forces much larger than he was). Society should try to manage the forces a little better, rather than possibly manipulating individuals through these forces to the point of death in order to meet the ends of special interests.
Does the value of the life of a stereotypically “Black crack addict” reduce (or elevate?) to the price tag of a “promotional message” of responsibility through her death? I’ve stopped emotionally investing in a justice system that reduces the lives of people to “messages”. Although one might argue that justice should be independent of emotion, I think, with regret, that one should “nourish” a desire and respect for justice. But I also think that life is the more important value.
One potential take on the situation: a Black militant, or maybe simply even one of God’s little sparrows, is transformed into a possibly nonviolent martyr through consciousness-raising confrontation with the injustice of the death penalty. Perry is invited to kneel with a Black formerly crack-addicted woman.
I hope, against all odds, that McCarthy doesn’t die at the hands of the State. Her life is worth saving.