Prison Radio
Jy’Aire Smith-Pennick

So the state of Alabama is about to murder a man, by making him breathe pure nitrogen gas, which is an untested method, a method never used before. I’m having a really hard time processing this entire situation because it baffles me. Like, here we are living in the year 2024, yet we still have people being executed. How is that? This is completely unconstitutional. I understand that people do bad things. I also understand that people make poor decisions. I made poor decisions that altered lives of many, which I hold myself accountable. Words cannot explain the amount of empathy I feel for those impacted by crime, violent crime in particular. However, state sanctioned murders should never be the answer. These sorts of practices are draconian in nature, outdated, and ineffective. The death penalty does not deter crime, as we know. So my question to you is this: Is executing someone justice or merely revenge? If it’s revenge, does that make it right? And if this is your view of justice, has your view been obscured by justified, yet [rising], emotions?

It’s impossible for me, as a critically thinking human being, to simply overlook the blatant hypocrisy obstructing my view. We cannot continue to allow the criminal legal system here in the United States to decide when murder is deemed appropriate. Aside from self-defense, we can all agree that killing someone is always wrong. By law, murder is illegal. Murder is a crime. It is morally and ethically wrong. What has, and continues, to leave me flabbergasted is the fact that the state can sentence you to a punishment of death. So let me get this straight. It’s illegal to kill someone. And if you break the law, it becomes legal for the state to kill you. If that isn’t a contradiction, then the definition of the word contradiction must have eluded me.

This case has made it all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States yet they refuse to intervene. The fact that they choose to sit idly by and do nothing, shows not only their lack of compassion, but their inability to do their jobs effectively. SCOTUS justices should be limited in their terms and also go through an electoral process. Clearly, too much comfortability breeds complacency and inaction. Let’s take a minute to reflect on Germany and their heinous history as it relates to the Holocaust. Imagine if Germany had the death penalty in their country. I can almost guarantee the country will be in an uproar. America has the history of slavery and the genocide of the natives, yet here we are executing our very own citizens. This is absolutely unbelievable. Many Southern states have recently reinstated firing squads, which is when several guards line up with rifles with only one of them having a real bullet in the gun. The prisoner is blindfolded and placed on an elevated stand. When the guards are given a green light to shoot they aim at the prisoners head and kill him.

What year is it? When animals get euthanized, they are treated with more dignity and respect than human beings. They’re blindfolded and made comfortable and relaxed before they get put down. On death row on the other hand, they wake up every day wondering if today will be their last. This is mental torture and corporal punishment. I don’t know where we go from here. It seems to me that the pendulum has begun to swing in the direction of uncertainty. Anyone who utilized gas in the past to kill were labeled war criminals. This is no different, people. This is assassination by the state. Alabama, along with every other state that engages in such inhumane practice are war criminals, modern day Hitlers.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.