Doing Justice

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Doing Justice

O' mother of mine: The past seems to come alive for me ["Justice for Some," by Scott Nowell, October 3]. I have a son on death row in the Oklahoma state prison. When I think of him, the past is all I have.

I believe that the justice system, though flawed, is the best there is in the world. And I always believed in the death sentence for those that have taken a life. If you take a life, you should forfeit your own, but in a civil manner.

Since the conviction of my son, I have had reason to change my belief in that the person who suffers is not the only one who is put to death, but also the family of that person.

Since my son has been on death row he has found a new way and a new life. He has found God and unlike many jailhouse conversions has become a minister to others and has started to console me and his family. He says that the thought of spending a lifetime in the prison is more frightening to him than his death. He says he knows where he is going and is looking forward to it.

The only regret he has, besides for his victim, is the pain and suffering his death will leave behind. His father and I and his siblings are the ones condemned to a life sentence of suffering and grief. He will be at rest and in the forgiving arms of God.

He told me that when God forgave him for the life he had taken, he -- on his own -- wrote to the family of his victim and told them that he knew they may never forgive him and he well understood that, that he just wanted to tell them how sorry he was. He said that the only way he could expect God to forgive him was for him to ask for the forgiveness of the family of his victim. He felt he owed the family of the victim his profound remorse, and just feeling it was not enough; he must tell them.

I understand that, but I need to ask a question: Who tries to ease the pain for the parents of the condemned? Who tells us that they are sorry and remorseful for the death of our child? Does the state consider us, the parents, siblings and family of the condemned, as victims? No, they do not. But as surely as I live and breathe, we are the victims who have all the grief and none of the closure.

The death sentence should be left behind as cruel and uncaring. To say the death sentence is a deterrent to others committing the same crime is simply moronic.

For a country as great as the USA to carry on an outdated and cruel practice is also moronic. I feel that the system must be changed and enlightened and move forward, not backward as the death sentence has taken us.

When the date for my son's execution arrives, I will be there, and the last face he sees will be mine, the first face he saw at birth. Will I ever get over the injustice, grief and sorrow my own country condemns me to live with for the rest of my life? No. And it will carry over unto the next generation.

Lyndia Faihtinger
Mother of Norman R. Cleary

Stockton, California

In the open: Thank you for your courage in writing about this issue -- it is long overdue for exposure.

Linda L. White

Compare and save: Justice For All is not a victims' rights organization, it is an advocacy group promoting conservative causes. If the conservative approach to law enforcement made a city safe, Houston would already be the safest city on earth, because Harris County is certainly the most conservative jurisdiction in the developed world.

Perhaps Justice For All should study what is done in those cities that are relatively safe, cities like Minneapolis, Toronto, London and Tokyo.

Jacob Wissler Jr.

Yates is no victim: The bias of this story is easily seen in that approximately 600 words were devoted to the alleged mistreatment of Rusty Yates by victim groups.

If this was a story about crime victims, Yates didn't even belong in the story. He does not see himself as a victim of crime. He does not believe a crime was committed. His grievance is against the state for prosecuting his wife for murdering their five children. His complaint is diametrically opposed to the goal of the victims' groups -- they want murderers locked up or executed.

John Wilson

Kahan, JFA are great: Andy Kahan and Justice For All is the best thing to happen to Houston crime victims since the surrender of Santa Anna. My child was the victim of a sexual attack by an HISD teacher, and with the tender, loving help and support of Kahan, we were able to get through this ordeal. JFA welcomed me as a member before I was a victim.

Reporter Scott Nowell obviously set out to disparage the nation's foremost crime victims' organization. He used lies, half-truths, innuendos and contradictions. Kahan is criticized for not identifying himself as the mayor's advocate at executions, yet the article quotes others as saying they didn't want him taking a stand publicly. Professor Dow is quoted saying JFA's hard line hurts its credibility, but the article points out the tremendous success JFA has had in getting tougher laws.

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