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An execution in Texas

Letter of March 1st 1998
from Jacques Gaillot

The execution of Karla Tucker caused waves of repulsion and consternation throughout the world. As a member of the human race I feel only shame.

This execution and its barbaric ceremonial is and remains a scandal, a madness. A scandal because, once more, it shows that we are still trapped inside the vicious circle of revenge. A madness: we are obviously not prepared to believe that a person, once sentenced in the name of justice, can change.

Karla died smiling a smile of forgiveness and in prayer. The fourteen years of waiting had made her a different person, her conversion bore witness to the long road she had travelled and she had the wish, the need and the resolve to become a new person.

A criminal cannot be thought just in terms of the crime he has committed, but as a human being able to begin a new life. When we deliberately kill a criminal can we be sure that it is still the same person whom we sentenced for the crime?

Today, approximately 3,400 people are sitting in prison cells awaiting their execution. Although none of these are as well-known as Karla Tucker, they too could have changed through the years of waiting, and then when seen as human beings are greater than their crimes.

Scandal, madness, never can the death of one compensate for that of another.

It is too much to hope that the power over life and death on this planet of ours will one day no longer be entrusted to such authority.

To achieve this goal we need the ability to change ourselves so that our humanity can grow.
 

 

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