Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Capital Punishment'

Chain Gangs Tomorrow, Lethal Injections the Day After. Couldn’t Happen Here. Could it?

The State of Virginia will tomorrow almost certainly put to death 41 year old Theresa Lewis for hiring two men to kill her husband and her stepson. The actual killers, Lewis’ lover Matthew Shallenberger and his accomplice Rodney Fuller, were given life imprisonment in return for early guilty pleas. However, the fact that Lewis had initially denied involvement in the crime went against her and the judge handed down the death sentence.

 Lewis, it turns out is a gullible woman of limited intelligence and, according to Fuller,  the real instigator of the killings was Shallenberger.

Commenting on the disproportionate sentences, crime novelist and former trial lawyer John Grisham, wrote in the Washington Post that Lewis’ sentence had less to do with justice than ‘the assignment of judge and prosecutor, the location of the crime, the quality of the defence counsel, the speed with which a co-defendant struck a deal, the quality of each side’s experts and other factors.’ Such inconsistencies, he said, ‘mock the idea’ that the US system is based on equality before the law.

Though Messrs Garret, McVicar, Hide et al, would disagree, most thinking people would share Grisham’s view of America’s record in its treatment of serious offenders as being medieval and barbarous. Where length of imprisonment is concerned the Yanks have pipped even us at the post.

However, we at least do not put people to death. There were 3261 people on death row in the US at the beginning of this year. The State of Virginia has executed 107 people since the restoration of the death penalty in 1976, second only to Texas where the figure is 463. Lewis, as Grisham observes, was kinda unlucky to live in that state and to not be very bright. Well, them’s the breaks.

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Death Out Of Season


Photo: Ursula Abresch

Photo: Ursula Abresch










One of the worst arguments I ever had in public was with my teenage son Olly and stepson Quentin. We were in a restaurant in Lower Hutt. Lorraine and Aaron Cohen had just been arrested for drug trafficking in Malaysia. The boys thought the Cohens deserved whatever they got. They knew the risks.

 I remember asking them if they were in favour of the death penalty. They said they were. I then began describing in graphic detail what happens when a prisoner is hanged, electrocuted, gassed, shot, given a lethal injection. At the end of each description, I heard myself screaming, ‘Is that what you’re in favour of? Come on, tell me, is that what you’re in favour of?’ I was red in the face and they were as pale as sheets. The whole restaurant was listening to this exchange. I had really lost my cool.  Looking back, I don’t feel too bad about it. I think I did the right thing. Perhaps not in the right way, but the right thing nonetheless. Read the rest of this entry »