Another Wrongful Execution

Today was the execution of Dale Leo Bishop convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Marcus Gentry.   The person who actually dealt the fatal blows that killed Gentry was Jessie Johnson, who is serving a life sentence with no parole. Bishop was an accomplice in this act, there is no doubt about this but he did not kill Gentry.   So why is this another wrongful execution?    The state of Mississippi two months ago executed Earl Wesley Berry, a mentally retarded man with paranoid schizophrenia, who faced execution because his lawyers did not submit the proper paperwork on time.  Bishop suffered from bi-polar disease.  But his lawyer, Bob Ryan, was handling 21 death row cases at the time and simply did not give Bishop the deligence due him.  Ryan is being accused for suppressing evidence that could have helped spare his life.  (Clarion- Ledger July 22 2008)  Bishop’s family could not afford the psychological testing that would have diagnosed him as bi-polar.  This diagnosis occured while Bishop was on death row and was then prescribed lithium.   It is against Mississippi’s law to execute people who are mentally impaired by retardation or by mental illness because of the belief that had they not been so impaired they would not have acted in such a manner. 

Is it just me, or does no one else understand that Mississippi’s legal system is dysfunctional and corrupted.  I use that word in the same sense that a computer program can become corrupted and no longer functions as it should.  The person who actually strikes the fatal blows gets life inprisonment and the person who is the accomplice gets the death penalty.  What kind of crazy justice is this?  A person who is unable to receive mental health services because of not being able to purchase it gets the death sentence, when those very services would have spared his life.  He might have been incarcerated for life but he would have been spared the death penalty because of his mental illness.    The incompetent lawyer who desired only to get the cases off his desk so he sloppily handles the case.  This is not justice.  This is criminal and it seems to be systemic in Mississippi.

I will paraphrase a quote from a letter sent to John Calvin the founder of Calvinism, when he executed Michael Servetus, non-trinitarian, during the reformation by burning him at the stake in Geneva.  To kill a man for justice, is simply to kill a man; it does not bring justice. 



One Comment

  1. Sobering thoughts, to be sure. Thanks for calling attention to this.

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