Mar 29, 2011

What is a Man's Life Worth?

What is a man's (or woman's) life worth?  Now, there are some who would say that there is no price you can put on a person's life.  That it's, in effect, priceless.  There are others who would talk about expected life earnings and their contribution to society and other such thing.   However think of that for a minute.  What is the worth of a life?  Think about that.

Then think about this horrible situation in Louisiana in which a man who spent 14 years on Death Row for something he didn't do, has now been rejected by the US Supreme Court, his compensation.

How would you react then?

Here you have a man who spent 14 years on death row for something he did not do, after being convicted, wrongly, of Armed Robbery in 1985. During that trial, the prosecutor did not turn over evidence to the defense that would have helped his case.

14 years.

What's the price tag you would put on his suffering?  On his pain?  On the loss of 14 years of his life?

Perhaps you would go back to that "expected earnings" and whatnot.  Perhaps you would say "well, that sucks for him, but where do you draw the line?  If you give this guy a bunch of money, then you have to give everyone that's ever been wronged a bunch of money".

Some of you maybe are comfortable in your own lives, and so you can't relate to something like this.   So bear with me, and I want you to think about a few things.

Think back to 1997.   Now imagine all the things you've done in those 14 years.  Jobs you've had.  Friends you've met.  Lovers you've had. Marriages you've had, children you watched come into this world.  Anniversaries, birthdays. Sports teams that you love winning the world Title.  Seeing your favorite movies in the theater, or on Imax.  Going to see your favorite artist live in concert.  

Now imagine you missed ALL of that.  You never made those friends.  You never met those lovers.  Your wives or husbands?  You never met them, let alone married them.  Your children are not in this world, because you ever had them. That nice life you have going for you right now?   Gone.

Now how much is THAT worth?  Imagine you were John Thompson of Louisiana, and 14 years ago you were sent to death row and you missed everything that would come to pass over the next 14 years.

What's the price tag you would place on your life?  On the losses that this wrongful prosecution wrought.

In the film "A Time To Kill", Samuel L. Jackson was on trial for killing two White men who raped and beat his daughter and left her for dead on the side of the road.   While on trial the defense attorney, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey was up against a jury who was not inclined to side with a black man who killed two white men, no matter the circumstances.

So in one of the most climactic scenes in recent film history, posted below, he asked them to do something difficult for them.

And there you have it.  Put yourself in this man's shoes.  Imagine you lost those 14 years of your life.  Your life today would be drastically different.  Thinking of that possibility, now imagine you get out of prison, and find out that after you successfully sued the prosecutors for not turning over that information that could have prevented that tragedy -- and let's be clear, this WAS a tragedy.  Of Justice and of emotional and psychological proportions -- that the United States Supreme Court rejected your right to compensation because the Prosecutor's inaction did not amount to "deliberate indifference".

Imagine.  14 years of your life.  Everything you've accomplished in the last 14 years wiped out, while you're on death row, counting down the days til you're executed for something you didn't do.

And then find out that you're not entitled to compensation for those losses.

Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy for the "Justice" system, doesn't it?

I've said it a million times, and I'll say it again.  THIS is why I can not be for the Death Penalty.  I don't care how many arguments people provide talking about how certain people need to be put down.  I agree with THAT aspect, as I'm not opposed due to "Cruel and inhuman punishment" or anything like that.

But when you have people being exonerated left and right and released from Death Row for things they never did?  How can ANYONE be in favor of the Death Penalty when we don't know how many more people are in prison and death row for things they didn't do?

I don't believe in "Collateral Damage" or this idea that we have to sacrifice a few to make sure those who are truly guilty get what's coming to them.   I can't accept that, and won't accept it.  Thank God for The Innocence Project who continue to right the wrongs of our deeply inherently flawed system.

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