The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, It’s not the actions of our enemies that we’ll remember, it’s the silence of our friends.” While he said this in a wholly different context, the principle applies to the problem of the professional death penalty abolitionists and the more than 50,000 men and women serving life without the possibility of parole all across this country.
The professional death penalty abolitionists, careerist lawyers and limousine-lefty Hollywood types mostly, refuse to abandon their Faustian bargain of trading our lives for those sentenced to death by lethal injection. Instead of working for the abolition of all forms of the death penalty, like the Campaign to End the Death Penalty is doing now, like people of no less stature than Pope Francis, they are determined to condemn all of us to a slow and painful death by imprisonment so they can claim their hollow victory.
The Other Death Penalty Project strongly opposes the death penalty, and we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters on all death rows calling for an immediate end to the barbaric practice of lethal injections.
However, The Other Death Penalty Project no less strongly opposes life without the possibility of parole sentences, standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in prisons across the country, calling for an immediate end to the practice of death by imprisonment.
We reject the false, self-serving, and self-fulfilling claim of the professional death penalty abolitionists that the only way to end lethal injections is to support lethal terms of imprisonment. We reject that our lives should be sacrificed on the broken altar of their self-appointed aspirations.
In light of recent political events in California, we have come face-to-face with the silence of our friends as the professional death penalty abolitionists have launched yet another ill-advised, mean-spirited proposition campaign. Should their efforts succeed, no less than 5,000 men and women will certainly die inside California’s dysfunctional and deficient prisons.
But some of our friends have agreed to support this terrible measure to secure a few votes for their pet projects, or to protect fundraising efforts, or for fear of offending some leading light in the liberal pantheon. It’s both disappointing and all too predictable.
We will continue to fight against all forms of the death penalty, against revenge sentencing, against crass pandering to try and con voters, and against those who would trade a little reform of the broken machinery of death in exchange for a little fleeting glory. And we will not forget those who took the easy way over the right way.
This is Kenneth E. Hartman, Executive Director of the Other Death penalty Project, from inside of California’s prison system.