Less than 24 hours ago, a man by the name of Ledell Lee was executed on the basis of murdering Debra Reese in Little Rock, Arkansas. This crime took place over 20 years ago and has been debated about whether or not Lee received a “fair trial”. Throughout Lee’s incarceration, he continued to plea not guilty and asked for DNA evidence to be investigated — since he was not given proper DNA investigation 24 years ago. However, I am not here to argue if Lee was innocent or guilty of the murder of Debra Reese. Based on the police report and investigation, I would say most likely. I am here to argue that having the Supreme Court vote 5-4 to stop the execution and having any ounce of uncertainty on this case, is reason enough not to execute Ledell Lee.
Justice Breyer said after the Supreme Court’s decision,
In my view, that factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random, Justice Breyer wrote. I have previously noted the arbitrariness with which executions are carried out in this country. The cases now before us reinforce that point. (www.nytimes.com).
In this case, Justice Breyer was referring to the randomness of those selected to be executed in Arkansas’s recent rush to use its soon-to-be expired lethal drugs; in addition to the randomness of those who are given capital punishment in general. Unfortunately, this is not the first of many executions that have and will continue to take place in the coming weeks. Again, let me emphasize, I am not arguing these inmates innocence, but rather that at times it is near impossible to secure certainty with someone’s guilt.
Lee’s lawyer argued , “Arkansas’s decision to rush through the execution of Mr. Lee just because its supply of lethal drugs are expiring at the end of the month denied him the opportunity to conduct DNA testing that could have proven his innocence”, Nina Morrison said. “While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent.” (www.nytimes.com)
And I cannot help to agree with Nina. Without conclusive evidence, capital punishment should not even be an option. Another fact that has been left out of this case is that the drug company responsible for making these soon-to-be expired drugs was never told what the States intent was when buying from the company. The company has even demanded that the State of Arkansas return its drugs for improper use (www.bbc.com). In some states, the use of vecuronium bromide has caused botched executions where prisoners were not fully unconscious and exposed to significant pain (www.nytimes.com).
According to National Public Radio, countries — who dismantled the death penalty years ago — are watching and visiting Arkansas as it continues to execute inmates. Countries like England and Ireland view the death penalty as an unjust and permanent punishment that cannot be undone. This is a common view, as a strong majority of Europe holds similar beliefs.
Want to learn more about the Ledell Lee case? Here are a few links I found that helped me learn more about the Lee case.
Want to learn more about the Death Penalty? Check out my article about capital punishment at