Justice Is Not Served By Death Sentence Delays

On April 19, 2018, Walter Leroy Moody was executed in Alabama for the 1989 mailed pipe bomb murders of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance in Alabama and NAACP Attorney Robert (Robbie) Robinson in Savannah, Georgia.  He was convicted at trial and given the death sentence in 1996.  He was on death row in an Alabama prison for 22-years.

On March 30, 2016, Joshua Bishop was executed in Georgia for killing Leverett Morrison, and another man, in Milledgeville back in 1994.  He was convicted at trial and given the death sentence in 1996.  He was on death row in a Georgia prison for 20-years.

For two decades, tax payers in those two states paid for incarceration (e.g., housing, food, medical, etc.) of these two individuals who had been sentenced to die for double murders.  The average stay on death row for convicted murderers in the U.S. is now 16-years and rising.  The longest stay involved a Florida man convicted of killing three women.  He was on death row for 40-years and ended up dying of natural causes!  Lengthy stays have now raised the issue of “cruel and inhumane punishment” some in the legal community.  Forgetting about the same impact imposed on

Housing those sentenced to death for such extended periods unreasonably delays closure for families who have lost a loved one to murder.  Worse we begin to feel sorry for those languishing for those many years on death row.  As such, it becomes the convicted murder who then, to some, takes on the cloak of victim, rather than the families who’ve lost a relative, taken from them forever by the extreme cruelty of murder.

The solution for both the families impacted without ultimate closure, and for the death row inmates subjected to cruel punishment because of the unreasonably extended wait, is the obvious: more expedient executions.  With modern forensics now as the fail-safe method for preventing the death of those who may have been wrongly convicted, there simply is no reason, other than congested courts, for the years it is currently taking to carry out court imposed death sentences.  Five years is a reasonable time within which to carry-out valid appeals.  Yes, but what about the courts.  Well, if we are at all serious about shortening death row stays, for the peace of mind of victim’s relatives, and to lessen the mental anguish, some claim, of death row inmates,  we as a nation must step up and expand the number of courts and judges equipped to handle death row appeals (and/or more rapidly dismissing merit-less appeals).  Sixteen to more than twenty-years (40!!) on death row denies proper closure for impacted families (on both sides), and denies the timely caring out of the court imposed sentence.   With fairness and justice for all parties in mind, death row stays must be shortened.