March 19, 2010

Paul Warner Powell

By Brady Bonk

If the only choice I had left in the world were to either be killed or to spend the rest of my life behind bars, it would take me not a second to bare my forearm’s underside to my captors.

That is the truth laid bare. It is the most honest assessment I can offer regarding my own position regarding the death penalty. If I, personally, had to choose between life and my own personal liberty, I myself would simply want to go. I assume that there are others like me. Which is why it is my opinion personally that putting an inmate to death is little more than a mercy killing, that keeping him alive in captivity to die of his body’s own accord, to repent without result, to live with his own dreadful actions, to steep forever in the prison environment, that is the real ultimate punishment.

Besides, as I have argued before, I believe that the death penalty chokes the revolutionary spirit upon which this country was founded. No nation that considers death to be the worst it can do to you actually values liberty over life. The death penalty renders Patrick Henry’s spirited call to be as valuable as one-half a box of Milk Duds.

As The Washington Post and Shitty Corporate Mouthpiece reports with a certain sense of glee this morning, Virginia executed a man last night. Paul Warner Powell, 31, was declared dead at 9:09 p.m. Thursday, convicted of a brutal rape and murder in Man-asses in 1999.

Powell’s crime, to which he confessed, was horrific—no doubt. He murdered a teen-age girl and then waited for her sister to come home so that he could rape her and leave her for dead, and his motivation as it turns out was that he was all in a fuss because one of them was dating a black man. Kristie Reed survived.

“I need to know that he’s gone, that we don’t have to deal with this anymore,” said Kristie Reed, now 25 and an advocate for rape victims. “I was totally against the death penalty before this happened, and I didn’t know why people would want to do it. But those people haven’t been through what we’ve been through. Now I’m totally for it. He definitely deserves to die. He needs to die for what he did to Stacie.”

The quote, the story, the execution, somehow it’s tempting to nod one’s head and go yeah, that’s right. And if Ms. Reed finds solace in Powell’s death, then perhaps there is good from it. But I have a hunch that not every murder victim family member finds that the perpetrators’ death brings peace because in a fucked up scenario such as that there simply is no complete peace to be found, ever. What the death penalty does manage to do, though, is to create more victims. Mr. Powell, as monstrous as were his deeds, probably had a mother or a sister or an aunt or somebody who misses him today. They are victims, too.

Regardless. I am one who is convinced that, last night, Paul Warner Powell got an easy out. Anyone really interested in punishing him would see him in a 6-by-9 cell for the rest of his natural life.