We Are Not God: No Way to Devise a Fair Death Penalty

by Alex Mikulich, Ph.D., Fall 2015 JustSouth Quaterly 

Glenn Ford was released from Angola’s death row in Louisiana in 2014 after he spent 30 years there for a murder he did not commit. In a rare and unusual twist for any death penalty case, the former district attorney who prosecuted and gained Ford’s conviction in Caddo Parish in 1984 apologized to Ford in 2015, just months before Ford succumbed to cancer on June 29. Sidney Garmon, director of the Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and I had the privilege of interviewing A.M. “Marty” Stroud III on May 29, 2015, in his Shreveport law office. The following is an abbreviated and edited version of our conversation. A video series of the interview is available at the Jesuit Social Research Institute’s YouTube page.

How do you view the death penalty after Glenn Ford’s release?

AMS: People say it is “the system.” Who is the system? It’s just doing your job. I was a history major in college and I have studied the Nuremburg trials. One of the big defenses [by Nazi officials] was that they were “just doing their job—just following orders.” The judges in the Nuremburg tribunal universally rejected that defense. When you are dealing with issues of life and death, saying that you are “just doing your job” is not going to cut it. That is the problem with the death penalty system now. Glenn Ford spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, and no one takes responsibility. The [Louisiana] compensation statue is written in such a way that it is obscene. Nobody is held accountable for a [man] who spent 30 years on death row. They gave him a $20 cash card when he left prison. That is where the rub is. No one seems to care.



An Introduction to Race, Racism, and Whiteness

By Dr. Alex Mikulich

Over 100 years ago, in his introduction to The Souls of Black Folk, W.E. B. Du Bois wrote: “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Despite claims that we live in a “post-racial” society after the historic election of Barack Obama, the fact remains that the color line and racial hierarchy endures in the 21st century.  At issue for the Jesuit Social Research Institute, from the perspective of Roman Catholic social teaching and thought, is the persistence of disproportionate advantage for white Americans in relationship to pervasive and persistent disproportionate disadvantage for people of color in every sphere of life including health, wealth, income, education, housing, and the criminal justice system.  More than one issue among others, the contradiction between Gospel values and practices of racial inequality is scandalous. The contradiction between Roman Catholic and American claims for universal human dignity and equality, and the reality of social, political, and economic advantage that white Americans consciously and unconsciously accept and assume, betrays this scandal.  This article continues here

ARCHIVED Articles on Racism:

Stop Locking Up Our Future: End the School-to-Prison Pipeline-- Mikulich 

Get Smart Louisiana: Reforms open way for smarter, comprehensive sentencing in the future-- Mikulich 

Honoring Our Sacred Obligations -- Mikulich

Smart Criminal Justice Reform: Mississippi and Texas Leading Gulf South States -- Mikulich

A Last Will and Testament: The Freedom Riders' enduring legacy -- Mikulich

The Monstrous Elegance of White Supremacy -- Mikulich

Six Myths of Payday Lending -- Mikulich

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Becoming Maladjusted for the Beloved Community-- Mikulich 

Marching for Racial Justice in Contemplation and Protest-- Mikulich

The Gift of W.E.B. Du Bois and Double-Consciousness--Mikulich

Thomas Merton’s “Letters to a White Liberal”--Mikulich

A Victory for Democracy: Americans repudiate voter suppression, racism--Mikulich

Race and the 2012 Presidential Election--Mikulich

The Real Fraud in “Voter Fraud”: How so-called reform laws aim to disenfranchise voters -- Mikulich

The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich

Changing the Script: A Starting Point for Reducing Gun Violence--Mikulich

Stop Casting Stones: The Failure of Punitive Crime Policy--Mikulich

No Relief in Sight: Persistent High Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos in Gulf South States -- Mikulich

View all Racism articles »

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