Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Texas death row inmate has his say...

On March 19, 2014, the state of Texas will execute Ray Jasper for a crime he committed as a teenager in 1998.  He was in a group of people who robbed and murdered recording studio owner David Alejandro.  The murder was pretty brutal; Jasper personally slit the man's throat from ear to ear, though that didn't kill him.  Then he helped hold Alejandro down while his "friends" finished the job.  There is no question that Jasper and his posse were guilty.  They are not wrongfully imprisoned.

Japser has spent the last fifteen years on death row.  The guy that actually committed the fatal act that finished off Alejandro admitted to what he did and got life in prison.  Jasper is apparently upset that he's going to be executed while the guy who actually did the killing will get to live in a cage for the rest of his natural life.

I am generally against the death penalty.  I think it is often unfairly administered and, on the whole, it's barbaric.  I'm not sure how I feel about Ray Jasper's impending execution.  I might want him dead if I were one of David Alejandro's surviving friends or family members.  As someone detached from the case, I can say that I find executions pretty disturbing.  I find them at least as disturbing as this article that someone posted on my Facebook last night.

I'm not going to spend too much time analyzing the article.  If you want to read what Jasper has to say, I would encourage you to read his lengthy manifesto about how unjust it is that he is going to be executed and that prisoners are basically slaves.  Prison is not supposed to be pleasant.  If prison were pleasant, people would want to go there.  As to whether or not prisoners work, they do have a choice to opt out.  But opting out means they will be locked down.  If they were slaves, they would not have a choice as to whether or not they worked.

This article basically gives Jasper a platform, which I think is one of the worst things about the death penalty.  Because when people are on death row, other people are interested in what they have to say.  They get interviewed by curious journalists or there are people who are willing to broadcast their last words.  No one ever does that for their victims, who often end up dying horribly.

One thing I will say about Ray Jasper is that he's obviously a very intelligent man.  As I read what he wrote last night while trying to fall asleep, I felt some sadness for him.  He's the father of a teenager who was six weeks old when her father went to prison.  He's articulate and has obviously spent a lot of time thinking.  He probably could have done something good with his life. Too bad he didn't spend time thinking about it before he slit an innocent man's throat for money.  He spent two hours with Alejandro, allowing the man to record him before he savagely attacked him.  He even said Alejandro was one of the kindest people he knew.  What gave him the right to hurt and assist in taking the life of a kind person who was obviously valued by society and the community at large?

I don't doubt that life on the inside of a prison sucks.  I agree that prisoners, as human beings, should have some basic rights.  But most people who are in prison make bad choices that put them there.  I don't know what led to Ray Jasper's decision to kill someone, especially in Texas.  That decision, despite Jasper's obvious intelligence, was one of colossal stupidity.  He's going to pay the ultimate price.  May God have mercy on his soul.  And may God have mercy on the people left behind… Alejandro's family and friends and Jasper's family and friends… especially his daughter, who will no doubt experience a terrible loss when her father is executed by the state.

No, I am not a fan of the death penalty, but I am also no bleeding heart when it comes to merciless thugs who commit violent acts against decent, innocent people.  I think Ray Jasper has already gotten more than he deserves, even if I would probably vote against his getting the death penalty.  He's had his say, which is more than we can say for David Alejandro.


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