Monday, November 21, 2011

Rhoades Postscript

With two witnesses representing each of Paul Ezra Rhoades' victims, four members of the Idaho press, and various government as well as law enforcement officials, the state of Idaho executed a man convicted of three murders. Rhoades became the twenty-eighth prisoner to be executed in Idaho since 1864. Twenty-eight have been executed, none since 1994, and yet the pro-death penalty, conservative Governor of Idaho wasn't even in the state when the execution occurred. In fact, Governor Otter wasn't even in the continental United States, but the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades was carried out. We ask this state to take the life of a convicted inmate in our name, but we don't ask that the leader of our state be in attendance.

My profound disappointment in what happened Friday morning does not begin and end with my opposition to the death penalty. I once said that I was grateful to live in a state that isn't as blasé about executions as Texas and that opinion was challenged by the blasé way the governor treated Friday's execution. The head of the Department of Corrections and the attorney general looked as if they hadn't slept in days, yet the governor was in Hawaii at an annual conference. It's unfortunate, to say the least. Despite the state politics and the divisive issues that surround the death penalty, there were far greater disappointments in what happened Friday. Continuing with how I've approached the topic, I highly encourage perusing the following articles regarding Friday's timeline, Rhoades' final words and the many reactions to the execution:
The most disappointing and horrible part of what happened Friday came in Rhoades' final words. By executing him and asking for his final words, the state of Idaho gave Paul Rhoades one last opportunity to inflict pain on his victims' families. Not only does the death penalty allow for pain to continue to be inflicted on those closest to these cases through the long and constitutionally granted appeals process, it gives monsters a pulpit and an audience to say incredibly hurtful things. All of this could be avoided by leaving him to rot in prison for the rest of his days.

It was always Rhoades' modus operandi to inflict unnecessary pain and he did so once again Friday in denying his involvement in two of the murders for which he was convicted, two murders that he unequivocally committed. Only a monster could do this, a monster given the pulpit in which to say as much. As a friend of one of Rhoades' victims uttered as it was determined that Rhoades was dead, "the Devil has gone home." Indeed.

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