Author John Grisham: Stop Executions

In an interview in the Kansas City Star yesterday, author John Grisham calls for a moratorium on all death penalties due to flaws in the system -- and for its permanent abolition in the U.S.

Grisham, whose books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, emphasized he was expressing his personal views..... it is his personal view that the death penalty is immoral.

“I’m a Christian, and you’ll never convince me that Jesus taught revenge killings are what Christians are supposed to be doing.”

He also calls for an end to snitch testimony:

“Let’s start with the basic concept of a fair trial. We are so far away from that in every state in this country.”

“Snitch testimony” should be outlawed, Grisham added. In some cases, including that involving Williamson and Fritz, prosecutors have paid individuals for their testimony. In other instances, prosecutors have hidden evidence or refused to share exculpatory evidence with defense lawyers.


As for the innocent on death row:

“There are innocent people today on death row. A (relatively) small number … but how many is too many?”

Thank you, John Grisham, for voicing your views.

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    To be honest (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by HK on Fri May 11, 2007 at 11:40:17 AM EST
    I'm amazed at some of the evidence, not least snitch testimony, that is deemed acceptable in US courts even when we are just talking about getting a conviction, not to mention determine whether someone should live or die.  In British courts, the Crown Prosecution Service might not even pursue a case if all they have is circumstantial evidence, no matter how strong or how serious the crime.  In fact, in many ways in this country, the more serious the crime, the more cast iron a case is required to be.  And yet people are sitting on death row in the US due to cases built solely on circumstantial evidence.  One of the more notable cases like this was that of Kerry Max Cook, whose book Chasing Justice has recently been published.  He spent 22 years on death row for a murder he didn't commit and all that linked him to the crime scene was a single fingerprint.

    It's always great when those in the public eye such as John Grisham draw attention to these issues.

    "Authors" (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by diogenes on Fri May 11, 2007 at 10:50:07 PM EST
    Why exactly is John Grisham's personal view any more informative on the subject than that of many practicing prosecutors, defense attorneys, or judges?
    There are plenty of death row cases with ironclad evidence.  All this "snitch" stuff is yet another distraction.  It's fine to say that copkillers or those in prison who kill other inmates/guards/teachers should not get the death penalty, but maybe some who oppose the death penalty even in these cases could work in local maximum security prisons.  Hey, maybe the lifers would get more humane treatment if more "enlightened" people applied to be prison guards.

    What is your point? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by HK on Sat May 12, 2007 at 04:55:32 AM EST
    No one said that John Grisham's view was more informative than anyone elses.  It's just a view, and Jeralyn reported it as such.

    Does the fact that there are plenty of cases with ironclad evidence make it okay that some people are convicted on just circumstantial evidence okay?  I don't think so.  In which case, what is your point?

    I know people who are against the death penalty who work in prisons.  What is your reasoning there?  That it is okay to put people in danger if they believe all people should be treated humanely?  It is never okay to put prison workers in unnecessary danger.  But there are prisons designed to house the most dangerous inmates, where they are kept in solitary and their food is delivered through a "port" so don't tell me that executions are the only way to make everyone safe because they are not.


    Good morning. How's the garden?? (1.00 / 1) (#4)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun May 13, 2007 at 09:24:09 AM EST
    If you have read the two posts now up, you know that I demand absolute proof for any death peanlty case, and admit to being conflicted over it, period.

    However, I can find no one to answer this question.

    If the LWOP prisoner kills again.. a guard, another prisioner, a prison worker... what would you do? How do you control such a person unless they know that their death is automatic if they are convicted of killong again??

    Re 'I can find no one to answer this question' (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Edger on Sun May 13, 2007 at 09:56:07 AM EST
    People might think you're lying, jim, after reading a statement like that from you.

    But you probably were just a little gonzo when you typed it, and you couldn't recall recalling the last answer to the same question that was given to you, that you can't recall getting.

    Thank god for the incompetency defense, huh, jim?


    Good thing it's sunday today, jim (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Sun May 13, 2007 at 10:08:40 AM EST
    You could leave a couple thousand extra bucks in the plate this morning. I hear "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle...", etc., etc. Maybe trying to buy your way out will work better than the incompetency defense?

    If you follow Edger's link (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by HK on Sun May 13, 2007 at 12:05:09 PM EST
    you will find below Freewill's response to your question and your reply to it is my comment.  But further to that, since the death penalty exists in States in which convicted murderers have killed fellow inmates, it doesn't seem to be the absolute deterrent you would have it to be, does it?  A case like this has occurred very recently, but unfortunately I can't find the link for it, nor remember the State in which it occurred, but I do remember that the murder of the cellmate was particularly gruesome.

    The garden is fine, though the harvest is not yet bountiful.  This lunchtime, we ate a radish (singular) we had grown...Thankfully, we had some shop-bought salad in the fridge to go with it.


    HK (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun May 13, 2007 at 05:40:02 PM EST
    I pay very little attention to Edger because he couldn't even figure out that Freewill had not answered the question....

    I used to think he was just slow, but then I realized it was deliberate.

    Do we offer them respect? Absolutely not. We do our best to marginalize and get rid of them

    And I read your response, and responded.

    Keep the faith on the garden!


    Cheers Jim! (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by HK on Sun May 13, 2007 at 05:53:18 PM EST
    Thanks for the encouragement with the gardening!

    You know, you and Edger are grown men who fight like small children and yet if you found yourselves sitting next to each other at a bar, I bet you'd have a good night debating life, the universe and everything.  After all, you have many a cross word here, but you still both come back for more...

    PS  I responded to your response, if you get my meaning.


    HK (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:02:43 AM EST
    re Edger re bar....

    There are several people who blog here who I would enjoy meeting and having a brew with..

    Edger isn't one.