Home > Domestic/Social Policy, Law and Order/Constitution, Musings > Dealing with the Death Penalty

Dealing with the Death Penalty

Garren Shipley, who barring intervention by Governor Tim Kain will witness the execution of Edward Bell on Thursday evening, has up one of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever read about the death penalty. However, it’s not a simple pro or con piece; rather, it deals with the immensity of dealing with the complexity and emotion that comes with contemplating the interplay of life, death, and justice:

I’ve spent a lot of time in these Cheap Seats and other chairs watching human nature, and I’ve noticed two consistent facts: Human beings like digital results. 

Yes or no. Right or wrong. Guilty or not guilty. Winner or loser.

But we live in an analog world, where digital results are rare and unnatural. 

When does the sun rise? It all depends on how sharp your vision is and where you’re standing. In all but the rarest of cases, there’s always some sort of gray area caused either by incomplete knowledge of events or the limits of our perception.


Such is the case with Ed Bell. People naturally want death penalty cases to be digital. But they’re not, and they rarely are. 

What we do know is that Bell was found guilty by a jury of his peers and sentenced to death. 

And for everyone who was not standing in that alley in October 1999, that’s probably all we ever will know.

Shipley has been writing about the Bell case ever since he first arrived in Strasburg. On Thursday, the sad saga will finally reach its conclusion. One side will feel vindicated and feel that justice has been done; the other will feel robbed of a love one and that a grave injustice has been done. 

Law enforcer, law breaker, lawmaker–its never easy. Nor should it be.

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