Thursday, December 18, 2014

George Stinney Jr and the Case for Abolishing the Death Penalty

So a U.S. circuit court has exonerated the case of George Stinney Jr, a 14-year old Black boy who was hastily convicted of murder and subsequently executed? But the reality is, George Stinney Jr is already dead and he ain’t coming back. Real exoneration would be to abolish the death penalty and ensure that “fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process” never occur again. But this will never be; because the U.S. will never do away with the legalized murdering of Black & Brown men in a society that falsely demands an eye for an eye retribution.

Why else did we allow the general public to gawk at the execution of death row inmates, similar to public lynchings carried out by hit squads?

Why else is Utah actively aiming to bring back execution by firing squad?

Why else would a group of attorneys be seeking to halt all executions in Oklahoma, following the botched & gruesome execution of Clayton Lockett?

There are several reasons to abolish the death penalty, from financial to humane. We know that the U.S. is a country that enjoys hypocritical notions of torture, decides which laws to enforce & when, and ignores civil liberties of the people at will. And while the death penalty is a hotly contested topic, let’s agree not to change the rhetoric: an “execution” is a formalized term for murder. Murder is murder. We cannot be blinded by the smoke and mirrors of savvy, politically driven/formulated lexicon. And even if a judge or jury of someone's peers decides that death is justified, who are we as human beings to proclaim that someone’s life has nothing left to give this world? We are in the only country in the world that claims democracy & liberty for all, yet dictate all of the circumstances surrounding someone's birth, life, and death.

George Stinney Jr, a kid who probably had a bright future was coerced to confessing the murders of two young women, then a kangaroo court, riddled with racial disparities, sentences him to death. Would anyone believe that a young Black boy would receive any sort of due process in the South, circa 1944? He was the youngest person executed in the 20th century U.S. And the same people that were demanding that this young man’s blood be split for a crime they were sure he committed are the same people today that claim racial inequalities do not exist. The same people who are tired of hearing about discrimination, segregation, and dog-whistle politics based on race. The reality of it is, people of color have been catching the raw deal from the U.S. criminal justice system since day one. If this isn't scary, consider that an estimated 340 U.S. inmates that could have been exonerated were sentenced to death since 1973. And while there aren't extreme disparities based on race for the death penalty, like all things, whenever there is a detrimental treatment towards people of color--it's just different. You don't have to look far back in history to see traces of the same fate for early adolescent Black boys; i.e., Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, etc.

A 95-pound boy, sits on a stack of phonebooks in the electric chair at the hands of a near-sadist justice system and fries him for something he didn’t do. And we’re supposed to be appeased by the overturning of his exoneration? Sure, it means something, but give us more. Scraps are good for the poor, but not nearly enough to bring those people back to flourish in society."The masses of black people who are sitting on a hot stove-- they're impatient-- and no matter how fast you say progress is being made toward letting them up, that progress is not fast enough for them. (Malcolm X)"

Either guarantee that people will no longer be victims to a broken justice system or do away with one of the most sweeping/definitive forms of injustice used by the criminal justice system.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. And there’s no cure for blindness.

Maximo Anguiano is a scholar, personality, and creative. More works can be found at or

1 comment:

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