Lamentations: On Carman Deck’s Execution
Lamentations is a series of short reflections derived from a reoccurring conversation that takes place before every scheduled execution in the United States between prominent abolitionists Death Penalty Action Executive Director Abraham Bonowitz and the Convener of Clergy United Against the Death Penalty The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood.
“…abandoned for days at a time.” “…around age 5, was forced to find food for his siblings.” “…sometimes all the kids had to eat was dry dog food.” “The child was so hungry that he ate all of his food, threw it up on the table and started eating his vomit…before he could be stopped.” “…and when they had a bowel movement…their stepmother would rub the feces in their face and laugh hysterically while taking pictures.” “Gang-raped.” “Despite numerous attempts to help the children from community members…authorities constantly returned the children to the abusive care of their parents.”
These are just a few descriptions/quotes regarding the abuses that Carman Deck endured before he brutally murdered Jim and Zelma Long (during a robbery with multiple codefendants). While two wrongs don’t make a right, certainly the initial wrongs go a long way in explaining the subsequent wrong. The State of Missouri was charged with keeping Carman Deck safe (and had the opportunity to on multiple occasions) …and obviously failed miserably. By failing Deck, the State also failed the Longs. Yet, it is Deck who is being required to pay for all of the crimes…both done to him and those done by him. While Carman Deck deserves to be punished for his crimes, it would seem that the State that failed him so badly as a child could show him a little mercy…and spare his life as an adult. Unfortunately, we don’t expect that to happen. It seems that people would rather kill their mistakes than have the courage to confront them.
We lament the abuse that Carman Deck suffered as a child. We lament the senseless deaths of Jim and Zelma Long. We lament that Missouri is executing Carman Deck. We lament that we haven’t been able to abolish the death penalty yet. We lament.