The series on Gaile Owens by Brantley Hargrove and Kay West is among the most insightful and moving works ever about an inmate slated for execution, as well as issues surrounding the death penalty ("No Angel, No Devil, Parts 1 & 2," April 22 and 29). Never mind that we are the last civilized nation on the planet to still engage in state-sanctioned vengeance and barbarism painted with the pristine, clinical veneer of proper, systemic rule of law. What became evident in the Scene articles is that after 25 years in prison, Ms. Owens has evolved so significantly that her essential constitution barely resembles the entity that precipitated the initial crime, so executing the current physical body of Gaile Owens would be somewhat like draining a pond where a person had drowned 25 years earlier. It may be similar in appearance, but the waters and life within are just not the same. So what, exactly, is to be drained away?
Moreover, victims' rights are often used as an argument for the state to kill someone in legal retribution. Yet especially relevant in this case, as brought out by West's article, is that a primary living victim of that crime 25 years ago — Owens' son Stephen — has completely forgiven her and does not want her life taken. So what about victims' rights in this case, and where are those who champion the death penalty on that basis, when victims themselves don't want the transgressor to be executed?
Stephen Owens was a teenager when he lost his father. What sort of concrete message are we sending to other teenagers across this state and the youth of this country when our justice system itself instructs that the way to deal with someone who has taken a life is to take their life in exchange? Theoretically, the death penalty is supposed to be a deterrent to gangs and individuals from taking the life of another — but in fact the state is providing the lesson that killing those who are a problem is a bona fide solution. The state itself is providing the model for killing as a sanctioned method. How, then, as a culture, are we to expect new generations growing up in this country to ever see it any differently?
Andy van Roon
All of you at the Scene should be very proud of your work on this story ("No Angel, No Devil, Parts 1 & 2," April 22 & 29). It is well-researched, comprehensive, and clearly written. You have done a great public service. Thank you.
Ruth Moors D'Eredita
You and I both know very well that if Gaile Owens were a man, the death penalty would have been an accepted sentence ("No Angel, No Devil, Parts 1 & 2," April 22 & 29). Simply because Gaile is a woman does not mean she is incapable of lying and murder. Her own sister said it: she is a pathological liar. She obviously has you fooled too.
Lake Orion, Mich.
Thanks to crossed editorial wires, last week's review of Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 film Notorious was accompanied by artwork depicting the late rapper the Notorious B.I.G. Tantalizing as that celluloid mash-up would be, the Scene regrets the error and apologizes to Hitch and Biggie.
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