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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cruel? Debatable. Unusual? Certainly.

And apart from my opposition to all forms of capital punishment, I have no problem with such an unusual sentence. I am, of course, referring to Lam Luong, who tossed four children, the oldest of whom was 3 years old, off the Dauphin Island Bridge. As I predicted, Circuit Judge Charles Graddick upheld the jury's recommendation of death for Lam Luong. While I feel it is wrong for the state to take the life of one in their custody, in this case, Mr. Luong may actually welcome it when his time comes. I say this, possibly in part, due to a highly unusual stipulation Judge Graddick added to the sentence of death. In fact, I cannot think of a case where this has been done... or where it has been more warranted. Judge Graddick ordered Mr. Luong to look at pictures of the children every day for the duration of his time as a guest of the state.

As I reflect on the case, on the news coverage at that time, on the extreme anguish on the faces of that mother and her family, I also find myself wiping away tears. I'm sorry he will have the release of death. I am sorry he will not suffer longer for what he did. I am sorry that, instead of the average of 11 years on death row for condemned prisoners, he will not be forced to see photos of his victims every day for the next five decades. But above all, I am so very sorry those children do not have the opportunity to grow up, have fun, argue and fight with each other as siblings do, and just generally be kids. I am so very sorry that their mother, instead of visiting them in their rooms and fussing at them about something insignificant but oh so important, must instead make a trip to a cemetery. I am so very sorry we will not get the opportunity to see what good those four children could have done in this world. This is what is so heartbreaking about this crime. I hope that she finds peace and some small measure of solace through her faith and her family, but she shouldn't have to. They should be alive today, but they're not.

I'm sorry. I started crying again. On that note, I will close with music befitting this post.