The Common Good

The Hard Cases

800px-SQ_Lethal_Injection_RoomThe same evening as Troy Davis was killed by the state of Georgia, Lawrence Brewer was killed by the state of Texas. Davis, for whom there was serious doubt about guilt, rightly attracted a world-wide movement of support from a roster of prominent figures to hundreds of thousands of petition signers, and there were hundreds vigiling outside the prison.

Brewer, described as a "white supremacist" who was unquestionably guilty of a brutal hate killing, was hardly noticed. He, along with two friends, had taken an African-American man, James Byrd, Jr., attached him behind a pickup truck with a log chain, and dragged him to his death. Only a small number of death penalty opponents gathered outside the prison.

But if we are to be serious about opposing the death penalty, it is cases such as Brewer's that must also draw our attention.

Although he did not attend, the victim's only son, Ross Byrd, said that he wished the state would show the mercy toward the condemned man that the killers had not showed his father. "Life in prison would have been fine," said Ross Byrd, "I know he can't hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn't what we want."

That is the view that all Christians should take. It is a fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching that "Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, every person's life and dignity must be respected

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories


Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)