Letters to the Editor

Death and Dignity

Well done, Mr. Stowers: I have just finished reading the article "Death Angel" (September 14). It is probably the most interesting and well-written article that I've ever read in your publication. I was particularly impressed that Carlton Stowers didn't attempt to editorialize upon his own beliefs about the death penalty; rather, he left it up to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Well done, Mr. Stowers.

Matt Giuffre

Sterilized killings: I have opposed the death penalty ever since it was reinstated. As a former Texan, it embarrasses me to hear about each of these "sterilized killings" and claims that no innocent or retarded man has been put to death. Reading Mr. Stowers' article made me see that I am a hypocrite. For all my talk and for all my votes against the Bushes, I still slept soundly after each Texas execution while Chaplain Pickett lay awake talking into a recorder about what he had witnessed because he could not violate his sacred office by telling his story.

Thank God he finally did. And thank you for publishing it.

The Rev. Joe Dunagan

Moved to tears: This is the second article (the first was "Killing Machine," June 29) in your publication that has endeavored to put a human face on the process that Ted Koppel has described as "sterilized killing."

I was moved to tears by this article about a man who managed never to inject his personal beliefs into this messy debate. While he disagreed with execution both religiously and philosophically, I think that the Rev. Pickett has exemplified the truest qualities of a Christian man. He put aside his beliefs to minister, regardless of right or wrong. He chose to be a comfort to souls truly in need of forgiveness and redemption.

The Rev. Pickett reminds me most of the God I believe in--not a vengeful God who demands retribution, but a loving and merciful God who welcomes to the kingdom of heaven all who are truly repentant .

While there is a portion of society that views Death Row inmates as nothing more than vermin to be exterminated, the Rev. Pickett spent his days restoring some modicum of humanity and decency to the condemned. Would that there were more on this earth like him than the bloodthirsty who cry out for vengeance and cheer every time there is an execution in Huntsville. For as the Lord himself said, "Let he among you who is without fault throw the first stone..."

Name withheld

No victims here: I take issue with Mr. Pickett's portrayal of men on Death Row as victims; in his words, "They were talking somewhere deep inside, from years of carrying around the knowledge of crime and sin and immorality...they are heavy burdens most of us can't begin to imagine."

Yes, Mr. Pickett, I can't imagine, because there is a segment of the population out there that did not grow up privileged or affluent and still managed to follow the Golden Rule; managed to escape the temptation of drug abuse; managed not to blame an alcoholic, suicidal parent (like mine) for their "lot in life." We struggled to make a good life for ourselves and believed that another man's property, life, and family were inviolate--who are we to steal and murder and take that away?

I guess it's the 10- to 12-hour days I put in at work 5 or 6 days a week in order to be a productive member of society and put food on the table that cause me to be callous toward these men and women. No one forced them to take drugs or alcohol; no one forced them to rob and rape and steal. Do I believe the death penalty is a deterrent to crime? I don't care if it is or not--all I care about is that those who don't follow the rules after so many chances deserve to stand in front of their creator and be judged. I will concede that many cases need to be revisited given the rise in DNA technology expertise, but the endless appeals and waiting need to go away!

You know, maybe I will just throw away my life and not have any responsibilities or cares--I will take what I want without having to work for it. I'll steal from those who worked so hard to provide for their families, and if they put up a fight, I'll murder the men and rape the women. And if I get caught, so what! I'll spend year after year on the federal/state tit while a lawyer I don't have to pay for fights for my undeserving, wasted life. While my kids wonder where Daddy went and my wife has to work two jobs to provide a home/food/clothing, I'll be eating three square meals a day and saying thanks to America for the $30,000 or so a year it takes to take care of me. Hey, why not just cut me a check? What a bunch of crap!

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