Welcome to #90mStrong Mondays. Each week we’ll share a story from one of the 90 million people who opposes the death penalty. Are you one of the #90mstrong? Raise your voice to put an end to the death penalty! Share your story at NCADP.tumblr.com.
"I am deeply against the death penalty, and have come to this conclusion from a diversity of vocations that characterize my life. As an Ivy League professor, my research brought me to conclude that the death penalty is irrational, racially biased, class determined, unequally imposed, cruel, and dysfunctional as a deterrent.
Further, I was surprised some years ago to find myself the spiritual director for Clayton Fountain, regarded to be the most deadly federal prisoner ever. As portrayed in my book “A Different Kind of Call,.” Clayton murdered five different persons, four while in isolation at the maximum security prison. With the death penalty not yet a federal option, the authorities were desperate, for Clayton was ruthlessly uncontrollable. So they built for him an isolation vault of concrete and steel , in effect throwing away the key, intent on having him go insane.
Instead, we began corresponding, then occasional phone calls, and finally conversation through the slot where his meals were inserted. In time he became one of the most gentle and caring persons I have ever known. As evidence, my monastery accepted him as a Family Brother “in exile.” Before he died of a heart attack, his final words to me were these: “Paul, if I can be forgiven and restored, no one is beyond the mercy of God.”
As a priest, and former Protestant clergy person, I regard execution as a blasphemy, for it limits the power of God to transform. Last, as an activist who needs to act out his convictions, I relate to persons on Missouri’s death row. John Middleton, one of these who has become a friend, called me several nights ago. He shared that the MO Supreme Court had just set his execution —he had little over a month to live. “I told them to shoot me, that way instead of poisoning my liver they could give it to my Mom who will die without a transplant.” Of limited IQ, a difficult childhood, complicit in drug dealing, I wonder what supporters of the death penalty would say to John, especially if he had asked them, as he asked me, to accompany him during his final day."
--Fr. Paul Jones, Missouri