Book on one executed prisoner shows flaws in death penalty system
Reading "A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green," one keeps
waiting for someone to straighten things out.
Yes, Dominique Green was more than likely involved in a crime that
resulted in the death of Andrew Lastrapes Jr. And Green might be called a
saint by author Thomas Cahill but the young man was no angel.
When he was arrested in 1992 by the Houston police it was his 4th arrest.
It was that arrest that linked him to the armed robbery and murder that
led him to death row.
Still, he was arrested with 3 others who were involved in the crime that
day. One was never charged and the other 2 were given reduced sentences.
It was only Green who took the full force of the Texas justice system.
Cahill's book shows that there were many mistakes and flaws leading up to
the conviction. Green's lawyer acknowledged that "he drank a couple of
Scotches every night and that, well, his recall just wasnt very good."
Green passed a polygraph test that attested his innocence. However, after
hours of interrogation, he finally confessed."
So why did this young man spend 11 years in solitary confinement on death
row? Why was he executed at age 30 when so many good people were working
to overturn his conviction? Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa
visited Green and tried to draw attention and mercy to his case. The
Community of Sant'Egidio, based in Rome, interceded on Green's behalf.
However, there was no last-minute reprieve. There was no recognition of
the miscarriage of justice. Green died via a lethal injection in 2004.
Cahill writes: "Dominique is where he is for 2 reasons only: because he is
poor and because he is black."
Cahill backs up his claim by citing Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun
who said in 1994, "Even under the most sophisticated death penalty
statutes, race continues to play a major role in determining who shall
live and who shall die."
Cahill notes that about 40 % of the people on death row in Texas are black
as opposed to 12 % of the general Texas population.
Cahill, who is the author of the best-seller "How the Irish Saved
Civilization," makes a compelling case for the elimination of the death
He is honest in his portrayal of Green and notes that some might not want
to call the accused killer a saint: "Dominique was hardly a saint in his
early years, but I think we may speak of him in his last years as a fully
achieved human being."
He cites Green's patience and kindness and writes a compelling story of a
young man born into poverty and other difficulties who grew in faith and
hope while awaiting to be executed.
More importantly, Cahill draws attention to the inequity and insidiousness
of capital punishment.
He concludes, "It may be stated unequivocally that there are no good
arguments in favor of the death penalty."
After reading Cahill's book, it would be hard to disagree.
(source: Peggy Weber, Catholic News Service)