Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Friday, June 18, 2004

R.I.P., Steven Oken 

Now, on certain occasions, I admit, I am tempted to put a somewhat cheery face on capital punishment. My thought is not necessarily that it is the most effective way to diminish the number of capital crimes, since the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. Rather, my thought is that the radical sense of justice which is embodied in a state execution -- by 'justice' I mean, the 'eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth' sort of justice, the 'reap what you sow' sort of justice -- has a lot of potential for inculcating certain moral values in a valueless, relativistic society, even if these are only partial, incomplete values. The spectacle of a murderer being murdered has a certain moral resonance, no matter how you slice it. As I said, these thoughts only cross my mind on certain occasions.

But then, I read stuff like this:

"I want to thank God. This is finally over," said Betty Romano, Garvin's mother. "The only problem is Steven Oken died in peace. My daughter didn't have the luxury to die in peace, as I saw Steven Oken die tonight.'"

At one point during the execution, Oken's toe twitched a "mile a minute," Mrs. Romano said. She said she saw little else, commenting that her view of the inmate was his toes and his stomach. "He was aware until he got that first shot," she said. "I could tell by the reaction of his body."

Outside the state prison complex in Baltimore where the execution took place, a death penalty supporter announced on a bullhorn, "Mr. Oken has met his maker." The crowd cheered and threw streamers into the air.

"Justice has been served. This is justice for Pat, Dawn and Lori ... we're feeling good, we're elated," said Fred A. Romano, Garvin's brother.

Mrs. Romano thanked Ehrlich for refusing to grant Oken' clemency. "He stuck to his word, he kept his word," Mrs. Romano said. "He didn't wimp out at the last minute."

And I realize that this sort of spectacle is the last thing our society needs. If refusing to participate in this vengeful bloodbath is 'wimping out,' I'm wimping out with the Pope and cardinals on this one.

# posted by Jamie : 1:42 PM


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