photo accessed via canva.com via paid subscription
They’re at it again. Just over a year ago, we wrote on the topic of capital punishment with a specific word: hypocrites (link). Those chest pounding conservatives in the state house who claimed to be defending life with asinine abortion legislation barely turned their cheeks whilst signing barbaric execution legislation.
This time, they’re claiming respect for the justice system. Claiming it worked. Found, prosecuted, and sentenced a criminal.
A man is dead and Richard Moore has been convicted. Mr. Moore was tried and convicted, but not by a jury of his peers. He’s the last Black man on death row sentenced by an all-white jury. In South Carolina, we sentence and execute a disproportionate number of Black criminals. Since 1912, 74% of executed inmates have been Black men.
Our state’s hypocrites are claiming the justice system worked without admitting the clear racial disparities. They say it isn’t about race, it’s about the system working.
Since the updated fast-lane to execution was approved, Mr. Moore’s challenges to the method of execution have not been heard. Circuit Court Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled his appeal should be heard, but Mr. Moore is running out of time. His execution has been temporarily stayed, pending a couple of court cases, but that’s only temporary. He was scheduled to be executed, by firing squad, on April 29th.
South Carolina has never executed a prisoner by firing squad. There are many who would say,”There has to be a first, right?” But here’s the thing: Mr. Moore’s crime is not one that actually warrants the death penalty, not by any means, let alone the means we’ve never actually tried before.
Nothing about this case makes any sense. Mr. Moore has been unfairly sentenced. The legislature has moved to an irrational speed and methodology for executions. Mr. Moore is set to make the ultimate sacrifice for actions that occurred on the worst day of his life.
Are any of us the sum of our actions on our very worst day?
Mr. Moore has been imprisoned since 1999 after making a terrible mistake. Twenty-three years later, our state is still unwilling to forgive Mr. Moore and stay execution long enough to examine the constitutionality of death by firing squad. What hypocrites we are.
The Libertarian Party opposes the death penalty because we are human and know that the government is made up of humans, too. Humans sometimes get things wrong. And death is a permanent thing. It’s not the kind of thing you want to get wrong on purpose.
Mr. Moore was addicted to drugs. A generation after the 1995 crime bill demonized everyone who uses illegal substances, we are beginning to share, discuss, and understand the crippling effect of addiction. Our society, more and more, treats addiction like what it is: an illness that requires medical treatment. But in 1999, Mr. Moore didn’t have access to healthcare treatment for his addiction; he was living in poverty. Even today it’s almost impossible to find a bed in an inpatient rehab facility unless you can pay your own way.
Mr. Moore did something morally wrong. He took another life. We aren’t minimizing that. Mr. Moore was an accidental killer. He entered the convenience store without a gun. This fact alone demonstrates a lack of premeditation or intent to harm. He wrestled a gun from the victim. The victim had a second gun and fired upon Mr. Moore who returned fire. They were both shot. Only one of them died. The other has been in jail for 23 years.
The system has not yet worked. But the system is human, too. And humans can change course, re-evaluate, grow and learn. Be better than their circumstances.
No one is claiming Mr. Moore is innocent. Not even Mr. Moore. It was the worst day of Mr. Moore’s life and we don’t think he’s paid enough for it. We think he should die. Right? Isn’t that why we’ll line up a firing squad and murder him?
The state represents the will of the people. Me. You. Us. We. Are you willing to execute Mr. Moore?
In our state, we claim to value life. Except not all life, apparently.
Not happy to take responsibility for the miscarriage of justice in the Richard Moore case? Join us and other mercy- and forgiveness-minded individuals at the State House on Saturday, April 23rd at 2 PM. It can be our best day if we commit to mercy.
Learn more about where the Libertarian Party stands on abortion and the death penalty here.
Ready to get involved? Click here to find the next meeting for your local SCLP group.
Keep the fight for liberty on track. Donate here.