About a dozen years ago, I drove a ghost to the airport to a speaking engagement.

Obviously, he wasn’t really a ghost; the spirit of a dead person. However, having served 34 years on Oklahoma’s Death Row, thanks to DNA evidence, he was exonerated, that is, wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit and released from incarceration. I suppose then, he was indeed a ghost, because if the legal system had been more streamlined, he’d have been killed.

I share this because a recent bipartisan bill eliminating the death penalty and instituting life in prison without parole in its stead has progressed through the state Senate (SB-6052) and is now in the House for consideration. I urge its adoption and encourage other Skagitonians to contact their representatives and encourage a vote in its favor.

It’s the right thing to do, regardless of party affiliation. With over 100 men on death row in the U.S. exonerated due to DNA evidence, it’s reason enough.

It should also be passed because, according to a 2014 study by Professor K. Beckett of the University of Washington, jurors in our state are three times more likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for a white defendant in a similar case.

In the 21st century, it’s also, simply, the right thing to do.

I had the opportunity to meet (and march with) Sr. Helen Prejean, author of the wonderful book “Dead Man Walking,” which was turned into a marvelous film. She said to me, “Who among us wants to be defined by the worst thing we did in our life? Jesus thinks more of us than this.” Certainly not me. And, I suspect, no one reading this.

Let your representatives in Olympia know that you support the effort to eliminate execution in the Evergreen State. Stand for justice instead of vengeance.

David Johnson

Mount Vernon

Load comments