Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waste Not...


        Lethal injections in Oklahoma are considered the most humane way to dispose of evil-doers. 
In both centuries before, we hanged bad guys (and gals) in Oklahoma, or used firing squads. Later we invented and used an electric chair, affectionately dubbed by the press, “Old Sparky.” 
Eventually, however, as media coverage expanded and taxpayers began to feel personally responsible for executions, we decided capital punishment would be more humane if we restrained a miscreant and injected chemicals to snuff him or her. 
The Bible says we are to put habitual evil-doers “away from us.” Death, of course, is the ultimate putting away.
As a newspaper reporter, I covered several trials of people who were accused of and proven to have committed unspeakable atrocities against fellow human beings. 
Once in private, after a devout Christian judge pronounced the death sentence, I asked if speaking those words troubled him? He said, “Not at all.” 
The convicted man had murdered––mostly women––on more than one occasion. Twice the man convinced juries that he was insane at the time he committed those acts. Twice jurors ordered him committed to the state department of mental health. When he had completed treatment and his sanity pronounced restored, he returned to society where he murdered yet another female. The trial I covered was for his third. Again he went with the tried and true insanity plea. The third time, however, was not a charm.
Several of the people on Oklahoma’s death row are strong physical specimens. It occurred to me that ailing folks outside might benefit from those healthy retinas, tissue, hearts, lungs, livers, etc. Poisoning a whole person seemed wasteful. 
I didn’t mention my idea to anyone else at first, afraid the theory might sound Frankenstein-ian. However, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. Killing a healthy, physically viable sociopath was like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 
I theorized some with law enforcement, all of whom scowled. After thinking it over, some said a lethal injection destroys organs and probably renders other parts unusable. One thoughtful fellow mused that, on the other hand, harvesting organs from a living donor probably would be illegal. 
When an Oklahoma inmate did not die on the table immediately after receiving the lethal injection (in April 2014), some suggested we return to one of our prior methods of capital punishment. Hanging would leave most organs and living tissue usable. A firing squad or "Sparky," probably not so much. 
My writer’s imagination began plotting a story in which a personable, handsome murderer fell in love with a lovely, naive young lawyer, and she with him.
That mental maneuvering created JINGO STREET, my eleventh published novel released by Oak Tree Press in August. 
This novel introduces Max Marco, 36, who murdered his first man when he was eight years old. Growing up in foster care and institutions, Max was a product of society’s answer to unwanted children. 
Attorney Anne Krease, 22, grew up like a hothouse orchid, protected, sheltered, and naive.
Under normal circumstances, these two should never have met. When they do, however, the chemistry between them is volatile. Tempestuous. Turbulent. 
Writers read the same news stories everyone else does. We process them differently. 
        JINGO STREET is a product of reality and my imaginings.    ––Sharon Ervin

1 comment:

Beryl Reichenberg said...

Interesting commentary about capital punishment. It is an age old question about what to do with people in our society who are violent and sadistic. Beryl