Last night the State of Mississippi executed Henry Curtis Jackson Jr, at Parchman Penitentiary for the horrific murder of his 2 nieces and 2 nephews, he was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. central standard time. My understanding is that he stabbed all four of these children to death, who ranged in ages from 2 to 5. We have a court system in place were an individual is tried by his or her peers, and Jackson was found guilty and sentenced to die. We also have in place an appeals system that is automatic when the sentence of death is imposed. According to the laws of The State of Mississippi, Henry Curtis Jackson Jr, was afforded every opportunity that anyone else is, that finds his or herself in this position. According to the laws of the land justice was served.
First of all we cannot take away the horrific nature of these crimes. Four innocent children lost their live to a man who was supposed to love and defend them. He was their Uncle. He was trying to break into a safe that contained some money. Jackson said he had no recollection of the crimes. This would lead me to believe that his desire rob his mother’s safe and his inability to remember were all due to the fact that Jackson was high on drugs at the time.
Jackson’s own sister and the other mother of the murdered children asked Governor Phil Bryant who is a United Methodist to commute his death sentence. In Mississippi, the governor has the power to grant clemency and the person would then serve life in prison. Jackson’s sister said that the execution of her brother would just further damage her family. She went on to say that she loved her brother and had forgiven him for what he had done saying that it was only through forgiveness of her brother that God would forgive her of her sins. She understands forgiveness and the implications of not forgiving.
Was justice served with the execution of Henry Curtis Jackson, Jr? Let me ask the following questions: Will Jackson’s execution bring back the four children whose lives were ended? Will the execution of Jackson, be a deterrent to crime? Were the tax payers of Mississippi saved money by the execution of Jackson versus him serving life in prison without the possibility of parole? The answer is no, to all three of these questions,
If the state is going to sanction the execution of individuals; what does this say about our nation and government. America is one of the most violent nations in the world when it comes to crime. The State of Mississippi in a recent study was cited as one of the most violent sates in the Union. This should give us cause to pause and think about what we are saying to the world each time that a prisoner is executed.
It is my firm belief that violence; that is answered by violence will always lead to more violence. The execution of a prisoner in a systematic way with a lethal injection is an attempt to project an image of the death penalty that is acceptable to our sensibilities. After, all we don’t torture our jail population. They are treated humanely. Is it humane to execute a prisoner who has been found guilty and sentenced to death?
If human beings are created in the image of God, that means that even Henry Curtis Jackson, Jr, was created in the image of God. If you believe that all life is sacred to God, then how can one support state sponsored executions?
In Genesis chapter 4, we read of the first murder recorded in Scripture. Cain was a tiller of the land, a farmer. His brother Abel was a sheep herder. Cain brings his first offering to the Lord, and God flat-out rejects the offering of the fruits and vegetables that Cain brings. Meanwhile, Abel brings the firstborn of the flock with its fat, and God accepts Abel’s offering, Cain becomes furious, and in a fit of rage kills Abel. Later on God asks Cain where his brother Abel is to which Cain answers, “I don’t know am I my brother’s guardian?’ God responds that the blood of Abel cries forth from the ground. What did God do to Cain? Did God kill him? No. He was driven from the presence of the Lord and was forced to live a nomadic life.
Let’s be honest, the God of The Old Testament is a vengeful, and wrath filled. It is not until Jesus comes in that we are taught a, “more excellent way” according to the Apostle Paul. Jesus has come to give life, not take life. The way of Jesus is a radical way, it’s a way that many of us claim. However, are we willing to enter into the radical ways of Jesus? Are we willing to minister to the marginalized, those on the fringe? Are we willing to speak for the Henry Curtis Jackson, Jr’s of the world?
Jesus taught love, grace and acceptance. Even as he hung on the cross, he prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus changed the world’s understanding of God in a radical way. Ask yourself this question: Would Jesus be for the execution of Henry Curtis Jackson, Jr? I think you know the answer. If not read all four Gospels and I think you will be able to answer the question…