Saturday, September 19, 2009

Romell Broom and Willie Francis

"The greatest of all injustice is that which goes under the name of law." - Sir Roger L'Estrange

All week I have thinking about Romell Broom.

On Tuesday of this week the state of Ohio tried to kill Romell. For 3 hours they tried to find a vein in which to inject the cocktail of drugs that would kill him, but his veins kept collapsing. They tried his arms, his groin, his ankles and feet. Romell tried to help them. He made fists, massaged his muscles, turned over on his side.

One article I read said that Romell had refused the sedative that they give people before killing them, and that could have been the problem. He was too scared. At one point he started crying.

Finally they had to simply call it off.

But the killing has to go on, so they have rescheduled. FIrst it was for next Tuesday, now it is next Friday. The victim’s family say that he has to go.

This is what was written about his last day:

Sheer acceptance is what would be appropriate to call Brooms behavior on the day before the execution. Death row inmates often eat lavish meals as their last dinner and would meet their family members and loved ones before being executed. It was different for Romell Broom. He ate the usual meal prepared for all the inmates at Lucasville prison. He tried to call his father but was unsuccessful and although the visitors were allowed till the evening before the execution; no one visited him. Julie Walburn, director of communications for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction regarded him as very calm and co-operative on the day of execution. It was as if he has fully accepted, what was his lot.

No one visited him.

Isn’t there an unwritten law somewhere that if you try to execute someone and he lives, he goes free?

The only other person in the USA who survived an execution was in 1946 in Louisiana. Willie Francis, 17 years old, was in the electric chair. As the electric surge was applied he was heard screaming from behind his leather hood, “Take it off! Let me breathe! I’m not dying.”

Willie was killed a year later. They wrote a book, “The Execution of Willie Francis” and made a movie, “Willie Francis Must Die Again”.

Sister Helen Prejean, best known for her book Dead Man Walking, speaks throughout the film, offering her own insight on the death penalty and certain failings of the United States adversarial system.

"We play God," Prejean said. "We go behind closed doors and decide if a fellow human being lives or dies."

See also: The Two Deaths of Willie Francis


Barbara said...

This is so barbaric. Thank you for reminding us again how cruel capital punishment is, how it debases us all. I hope it is never brought back in Canada. We have some horrible criminals up here, too, but, if there is no remorse and no improvement, they remain in prison until they die of natural causes.

Revelations said...

I heard Sr. Prejean on the radio speaking at the National Press Club. It helped me understand further the issued involved in the death penalty, the inequalities, inequities, lack of consistency, high cost, and so on. On the other hand, I remember reading case files at the D.A.'s office that horrified me and left the question - what to do with people who commit atrocities against children?

beth said...

Simone Weil says that people who commit crimes against others are fractured within themselves, and punishment is really a gift to them, a way for them to heal themselves so that they can atone for their crime and enter society again.

Punishment in this country is generally based on revenge, rather than healing.

The point is, people who commit crimes NEED the punishment. NOt so that we can make them suffer, but so that they can heal themselves, and again be worthy to live with everyone else.

Revelations said...

My work buddy at the Campus for Hope spent most of his life in prison and "exorcised" by one of the inmates. It really helped him. He still had a few demons left in there though, unfortunately.

I think judging from what he told me, and my own experience with convicts at detox, that most of them were stopped short in emotional development at a young age, for whatever reason.

Your point is taken: healing rather than punishing. My friend had to go to a born-again inmate for his healing after years in jail.