Saving 49 Lives (Part 4)

(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

I woke up Sunday thinking that Attorney General Eric Holder could save the lives of the 49 people who are presently facing the federal death penalty.  He could save their lives simply by reviewing the determinations made by the Bush Administration AG’s directing that federal prosecutors should seek death in these cases, and he could decide that death wasn’t an appropriate maximum penalty in these cases.  He could decide, for example, that life without parole was enough.  More than enough.  And this simple decision could save someone’s life.  This simple decision could also put the United States in the main stream of civilized countries in the world that do not impose the death penalty.  Ever.  And it could prevent us in the United States from having even more unjustifiable blood on our hands.  And it would move us slowly, gradually toward ultimate abolition of the death penalty in the United States. What a great idea!

I made a small miscalculation, however.  I initially thought that this was such a splendid idea, it’s reasoning was so clear and so compelling that I’d post just a few items on the Internet, and send a few hundred emails, and then, poof! through the magic of the Internet there would arise a movement akin to the Alice’s Restaurant Masscre, and wham! the Attorney General would get the message and Pow! 49 lives would be instantly saved.  And best of all, I’d receive an email from Attorney General Holder saying, “Davidseth, Basta ya!  Enough already!  I will review all these cases.  Thanks for the reminder.”  That would have been so very wonderful.

This, however, has not yet happened.  There are still 49 people facing the federal death penalty, I have no email, and no review has been promised. By anyone. What was required, I was reminded by smart friends, my own experience, the ghosts of Saul Alinsky and IF Stone and Martin Luther King, was dogged persistence.  So I decided to be dogged, to write an essay on the topic every day.  Every day until I give up or something good happens.  And I decided I wouldn’t write about anything else for a while.  I’d devote my daily time and essay allocation to only this one topic. I figured I have enough material for the first week.  I don’t mind repeating myself.  This is, after all, Wednesday’s essay.  After that, who knows.

I’m reminded that the Argentinian writer Cesar Aira likes to write himself into corners from which he deftly extricates himself. I’d like to write an essay about that and how clever he is, but alas, I can’t right now.  I’m staying on topic, and the topic is the 49 people facing the federal death penalty and how to spare them.  I realize that there are risks to this kind of persistence: boredom and ridicule. I will try not to deserve either.

What exactly do I want you to do? I want you to request that Attorney General Holder review each of these 49 cases.  This is not very much to ask for.  But it is, nevertheless, what needs to be done.  I want you, dear reader, to take at least two very immediate, simple action steps:

First, I would like you to send a 500 character email to the White House to request that the Attorney General review the 49 cases in which the federal death penalty is presently being sought.  Here is a suggested text (497 characters):

Please review all of the determinations made by previous administrations to seek the federal death penalty. There are 49 defendants who presently face the death penalty because of decisions made by former attorneys general. Many of these decisions overruled local US Attorneys’ views, were politically motivated, and do not meet the expressed criteria of the present administration for seeking execution. Such a review can save lives and restore confidence in the justice department. Thank you.

You can of course edit and revise it and make it your own.

Second, I would like you to sign a petition asking Attorney General Holder to review these 49 federal death penalty cases and to tell federal prosecutors to withdraw their intention to seek the death penalty.

Which brings me to the further steps. The further steps have to be invented.  They don’t exist yet.

Please help me out with this.

You know how to use the Internet to spread this idea far and wide.  Please do that. Please request that people write to the Attorney General and sign the Petition.

Please volunteer and spontaneously write an essay about this topic at your own blog or your favorite group blog.

Please think of other, creative steps that we can take so that the Attorney General will hear this request to review these cases and will act on it.  And write those creative ideas in the comments.


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  1. C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. The Great Orange Satan.

    And yowie! ouchie! This isn’t even a recommended essay here?  This is going to take more than even I expected.

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