Double Lifers 

Professing to be pro-life but favoring the death penalty (or claiming to be pro-choice but opposing the death penalty) is to subscribe to an inconsistent life ethic.

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All equipment appears accounted for. Temp 73Aø. Made a check of area. Received one inmate, W Evans, #124549  Cell #3.

At 6 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1990 Wilbert Lee Evans was brought into the execution chamber holding area at Richmond's former Spring Street Penitentiary to await his midnight execution. A corporal kept a hand-written minute-by-minute log of his activities — a stark journal of the banality of impending state-sponsored death.

18:49 pm: Inmate made call to J_ S_ — attorney 202-xxx-xxxx

Evans was condemned to die for the January 1981 murder of North Carolina prison guard William Truesdale in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Former Gov. Douglas Wilder refused to commute his sentence, even though Evans had protected a female nurse from assault at Mecklenburg prison during the notorious 1984 death row escape.

19:17 pm: Inmate requested a cup of juice

Pro-life is a word generally used to describe those who oppose abortion. Many who consider themselves pro-life, however, may argue that sometimes a crime is so barbaric that executing the guilty seems to be the only adequate punishment. Professing to be pro-life but favoring the death penalty (or claiming to be pro-choice but opposing the death penalty) is to subscribe to an inconsistent life ethic.

The United States is alone among civilized nations in imposing the death penalty. Most criminological studies show that it has no practical effect on deterring crime, and is frequently billed more as an act of vengeance than a form of punishment. Amnesty International has condemned the U.S. death penalty as a sanction reserved for minorities, the poor, or those without any social power. Almost no one who can afford a good lawyer is condemned to death.

19:53 pm: Rev. B_ entered A Basement to visit inmate Evans. Inmate on phone & sitting on bed.

The judicial processes of the death penalty are incredibly costly. While actual figures vary widely state to state, the 2008 Supplement to the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice stated: “The pursuit of execution adds millions at each phase of the process. … A death penalty trial costs counties at least $1.1 million more than a conventional murder trial. The state spends at least an additional $117 million a year on capital punishment, half of it on prison expenses that exceed the usual costs of housing inmates and the rest on death penalty appeals.”

Richmond was horrified in January 2006 by the murders committed by Ricky Gray and Ray Dandridge, and many felt death was the only punishment for crimes so despicably violent and senseless. “Take 'em out back and shoot 'em” our so-called greatest generation dads and uncles may say in defiance of the judicial process, which sentenced Dandridge to life without parole and placed Gray on death row, where he could linger for a decade while his appeals drag on.

Gray and Dandridge are already dead in the eyes of society, locked away at least 23 hours a day and only allowed out for minutes at a time, in shackles and chains. Their death penalties have already begun.

21:00 pm:  Rev B_ departed area. Made security call. Inmate sitting on bed talking on phone

Many of us have not only facts and figures but our respective faiths to guide our beliefs regarding life and death. While the Roman Catholic tenet of the sanctity of human life is most well-known in the abortion battle, the church is also consistently anti-death penalty. Most all Protestant denominations have taken a stand against the death penalty, with only the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptists literally promoting the biblical dictum of an eye for an eye. The Mormon church is alone in neither supporting nor opposing the death penalty.

22:28 pm: Call to J_ H_ 202-xxx-xxxx. No answer. Made call to L_ E_ 301-xxx-xxxx. Made security call. Inmate on bed talking on phone.

While more brutal forms of execution such as the electric chair are used less, their rarity does not justify the punishment. Witnesses saw Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh close his eyes and go to sleep after a court-ordered barbiturate cocktail instead of watching him twitch and convulse as thousands of volts of electricity boiled his blood and stopped his heart. State-sponsored death, however, remains state-sponsored death, no matter how humane the delivery vehicle.

Dying a natural death at the end of the unnatural life of imprisonment is an acceptable form of state-sponsored execution; an excruciatingly slow lethal injection of denied freedoms, isolation and armed 24-hour surveillance that is more consistently pro-life and cost taxpayers millions less than a slightly more expedient captivity on death row and eventual execution.

22:58 pm: Relieved by death watch

When the first jolt of electricity was applied one hour and two minutes later Wilbert Evans' high blood pressure made his face explode, shooting streams of hot blood from under the mask. He was still moaning when a second jolt was applied to kill him. He was declared dead by a prison physician named Fry.

Dale Brumfield is a payroll services broker and writer who lives in Doswell.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.



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