Monday, August 13, 2007

 

Visiting the Row

When I first took the position of TCASK’s field organizer I inquired upon the utility of visiting someone on death row. I was genuinely interested in doing it for a number of reasons and initially was interested because I wanted to gain a perspective on the actual population that our mission is working to save. I yearned to see death row, talk to inmates, and better understand the pain and suffering they have gone through, caused, and are still experiencing. Two months later, I am in the beginning stages of the death row visitation process and I now have a slightly altered perspective of what it means to be a visitor, albeit, I’ll have a full perspective once I begin visitation.

I have begun corresponding with a member of Tennessee’s death row (who I will likely visit) by writing the individual a letter talking about myself, what I like to do, and what my interests are. While writing the letter there were points when I questioned some of the content of my writing and whether or not I should express detail into my travels, playing sports and other activities that as a free man, I enjoy. What I realized though was that in holding back and attempting to write a “shell” letter about my life and what I enjoy, it would be hard to truly develop a friendship with this person. I felt that, this person, this stranger who might someday become my friend, deserves to be exposed fully to who I am. All too often, the members of death row are dehumanized into nothing more than a number, a statistic. Is it not possible that they too have the very same interests that we have as free members of society revel in?

I know that through this process I will learn about death row and see the population that our organization fights for. But, I believe what is most important, is that I will soon begin a relationship with a person who needs a friend. I want to be someone they can count on, someone they can call when they feel down, and someone that can bring some light into their life. Conversely, I hope that I can go to them when I’m feeling down and that they will bring some light into my life, because, every single person on this earth, former murderers and rapists included, has some light to give.


Comments :
Touching. One wonders how someone becomes a "former" murderer or rapist.

If you want to do something for these people, other than feeling their pain, you may try to get them to confront the enormity of what they have done. By doing that, they can reclaim some of their dignity and humanity, which is a far better thing than being there when they feel down.

Ike, what makes us human is free will and the responsibility that comes with it. The greatest gift is to help a death row prisoner regain his humanity by getting him to accept his responsibility for his crimes.
 
Anonymous,

as you are doubtless aware, many death row inmates do undergo spiritual conversions and feel extremely remorseful for their acts.

While it is honorable to help convicted murderers confront the past, it is also necessary to remember that they are in fact human. Friendship apart from preaching is a wonderful gift for Isaac to share.
 
perhaps so

do you care to explain the "former" murderer concept? I am having a tough time figuring that one out.

Less than a month before child-killer Daryl Holton gets offed.
 
I'm pretty sure that being in prison for the rest of your life will allow you to confront what was done in the past. I'm not trained to help them do that however, I'd like to just be their friend is all.

Also, as an abolitionist, sometimes it is tough to narrow exactly what it is that I am working towards. And I think that one of the keys is that we are working towards protecting humanity and society from being held responsible for a state killing. Every execution is done in the name of every tax payer, so any time someone in Tennessee is killed, I am partly responsible.

I see no wrong in putting a human face to these murderers and rapists. I think it would be archaic to do anything but. I expect to grow as a person in many ways--to see someone around my age (23) live a whole life in prison and possibly be executed should teach invaluable lessons.

Lastly, I hope that you will not relish in the killing of Daryl Holton although the term "offed" says otherwise. Holton killed his children, there is no doubt of that, and he has and will pay dearly. But, to take joy in the fifth Holton family death is troubling to me.
 
It's not joy--since 4 kids died. It's just the certainty that justice is being served.

So how does someone become a former kiler?
 
"former killer"
This concept could apply to the Christian idea of redemption and forgiveness. Therefore, post redemption, they could be referred to as a "former killer".
The Methodist church is against the death penalty for just the reason that if the state kills an individual, there is no chance for redemption.
To me it's more about what the state is doing in my name as Ike points out. Spiritually, the State has no right to methodically (or any other way) kill a human being.
Were you at the foot of the cross when they "offed" Him? I sure don't want to be there and that's why I take up this fight.
 
If they are "remorseful" why don't they admit to what they have done and apologize to the families of the victim and their own families?

Care to mention who your "new" friend is?
 
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