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.
In 2005 I was witness to the execution of Michael Pennington at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. I was present as his spiritual advisor, and the story of that experience is detailed in my book, Oklahoma Is Where I Live.
It goes without saying it was a horrific experience, one I will never forget. Michael had been tried and convicted for murder many years prior and, in my estimation, had undergone a rather amazing transformation.
Yet, there he lay, someone I had come to know and care for, strapped down on the execution table with IVs affixed to both arms. As the time of his death approached, he mouthed the words “I love you” to his wife and mother. Then he looked at me and smiled his biggest smile. I couldn’t bring myself to smile back. Moments later, after the lethal drugs were injected, his head rolled to the side, and he was dead.
After reading of yesterday’s botched execution, I am reminded of the sacredness of life, and how no one, not even the State, has the right to take the life of another. The unfortunate fact is that, when we choose to execute someone, we lower ourselves to the level of the murderer.
It is high time we here in Oklahoma do what many states already have done, and that is to abolish the death penalty. As a state, we don’t have to kill back.
We’re better than that.
Gary D. Conrad
The 90 million people who oppose the death penalty are organized, energized, and ready to end capital punishment. Join us. Click here to sign on today to halt all executions nationwide.