Thursday, May 17, 2007


One Last Trial for Philip Workman's Family

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell ruled that an autopsy could be performed on Philip Workman's body, despite the fact that such a procedure would violate Workman's beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist. Judge Campbell ruled that, "“While Mr. Workman’s religious beliefs are sincere and worthy of consideration, they do not outweigh the medical examiner’s interest in confirming that the manner of death complied with the requirements of the law.” Read the judge's entire ruling here.

Of course this means that Philip Workman's family will have to endure one more attack on their loved one, having already seen his last wish denied, celebrations in Memphis at his death, and the horror of having their loved one executed.

I can appreciate the need to know whether or not the execution process is humane, but a better way to ensure this would have been to actually develop an execution protocol that doesn't mirror the protocols that have already produced botched executions in other states. And we should point out that, with no medical personnel involved, even if Workman's execution was carried out relatively "humanely" that does not ensure that another execution would be. Why not take a serious look at the very real problems with the three drug cocktail instead of simply making a few cosmetic changes and leaving it up to chance?

Also, the Nashville Scene has a terrific article of Philip Workman this week. Check it out.
Comments :
Thanks to Sarah Kelly and the Nashville Scene for the powerful artile on Philip Workman. As I read the description of Philip's last moments, my stomach knotted up. I continue to be astonished that we as a society can methodically murder another person in the name of justice and think we are somehow in the right. I am indeed grateful that God is infinitely more merciful than we are.
Whatever one's views about the death penalty, it is not murder. Capital punishment has the sanction of society as a whole and a jury of one's peers. Moreover, virtually every execution has layers upon layers of review by the judiciary and the executive branch.

To equate that with some criminal taking a life is nothing short of Orwellian. The people involved in the death process are not murderers, and it is, quite frankly, disgusting, that you would put them on the same level as people like Philip Workman.
"anonymous" clearly did not read Stacy Rector's comment correctly. She didn't say the gaurds etc murdered anyone, she did say that society did as you point out. It is sanctioned by our society and yes the death certificate indicates the cause of death as "homicide". Yes it's supposed to be a "jury of one's peers" and you'd think the layers and layers of judicial and executive review would yield justice - but that's not the case.
Well, a "murder" has to be committed by someone, now doesn't it? People here seem to like to toss around terms like murder, only to shrink from the implications of using such terms. When you use the term, "murder", the necessary implication is that there is an actual "murderer". Thus, my criticism is valid. But hey hey ho ho, the death penalty's gotta go--so anything that helps the cause (including the smearing of law-abiding prosecutors, judges and jurors) is OK.

And "homicide" and "murder" are not synonyms.
Don't worry. Tennessee will have the ability to test the anesthetic depth of another murderer relatively quickly. Holton does not oppose his execution, and he will likely get a date soon. The the state will be able to show, once and for all, that lethal injection, done properly is not "torture".

It will be fun to watch your bleatings when Holton, a quadruple child-killer, is put down.
I wonder sometimes what the motivation for some of these comments is. Do people actually enjoy knowing that another human life is ending? Does it make us feel good to know that there are some other people out there (it's always "they" in these cases isn't it?) that are so vastly inferior to us as human beings that we can kill them? I've never understood the kind of intense hatred that is directed toward people that we (presumably) don't even know.

To respond to a couple of the specific comments here:

When we talk about murder and or homicide, the set up of the death penalty system is that it works very hard to distribute the ugly act of killing someone across a wide number of people: a D.A. decides to seek a death sentence, a jury declares the sentence, several judges confirm it, the Governor signs a death warrant, different guards strap down different parts of the body, someone else inserts the IV, yet another person (often the warden) presses the button that actually begins the injection process, and, of course, as citizens of the state, we all pay for it and "sanction" it. We've worked hard to make it so impersonal that no one person is responsible. But in the end, we are all responsible, and that's one of the many reasons that I oppose the death penalty. As horrific as any one of the over 15,000 homicides that occur in a year are, I do not have a hand in them. But when a life is taken and I do have a hand in it, that diminishes me, and that's not something I am willing to accept.

As to our other, less than respectful friend (I've never, as far as I know, bleated), we've already seen that this protocol can be torture. Look at what has happened in Florida, Ohio, California, and North Carolina. If the state was serious about making lethal injection "humane" they would not have, in a truncated and hidden review process, created a protocol pratically identical to those that have resulted in tortuous deaths.
I have a question. Why do you folks get so worked up about capital punishment, but yet are silent about murders caused by people who have murdered, gotten out of prisoner, and then murdered again? Isn't foisting violent offenders upon society every bit as bad as capital punishment?
Along the same lines, isn't that proving that their time in prison obviously did nothing to solve the problem? Maybe you should consider reformations of the criminal justice system that would help to rehabilitate so these "people" would not murder again, or at least have a better chance of that not hoping. And yes, TCASK is focused on ending the death penalty, because that is the purpose of the organization. And no, I don't think releasing violent offenders upon society when they have served the sentence they were given, ironically by the criminal justice system that you are supporting, is the same as deciding to end someone's life, and even worse, deciding to end an innocent person's life. It seems to me that anger can be redirected more productively in this case.
I have only just this evening come across the Philip Workman story. (I am not a US citizen, live outside of the USA).

I am very moved by his story.

There is so much injustice and sadness in the world, and by all accounts it is likely this man was not guilty of the crime of which he was convicted.

Yet there is a reason for comfort and hope for his family (as there was for him also) and that is, that this man, again, by all accounts, had made his peace with God. His conscious was clear.

The short time Phillip spent in this life (by comparison to eternity) is but a blink of an eye. He now sleeps, and the very next conscious awareness will be of the glorious resurrection morning, where he will awaken to eternal life, never again to know a tear or sadness.

Sadly, our actions in this life do lead to consequences, and sometimes these are not fair. I hope and pray that the life of Philip Workman will not be in vain, and that others, particularly his family will share in the faith and hope that Philip expressed, so that they too, will be reunited with him in the world made new.

By all means:

Always stand up for justice. Stand fast in the promise of eternal life, by the power of the blood of Jesus who not only died the physical death (which destroys the body), but endured and gained victory over the second death, which destroys the soul; (of which we have no experience by which we can relate), so that we (neither you nor I), should never have to endure such a fate.

Jn 3:18 For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Praise God for the life of Philip Workman and for those who his life has influenced for good.

Seriously, no man can ask for more than that, and Philip's future is brighter than we can imagine.

One of the final prayers prayed for Philip, was that God would put a 'hedge' about him, and I believe He did. Philip's fate is sealed now forever. He rests in the arms of His loving Saviour.

There is much joy in that hope and blessed reassurance.

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