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loose ends.

8 Oct

Around the time I gave up Facebook, things got a little crazy.  That’s not what this is about.  What this is about is typing up the loose ends.  There are a few subjects that I wrote about the week of and then never followed up on.  So, without further adieu…

Quitting Facebook: I thought that quitting Facebook would be difficult.  Not because I’m hooked on technology, but because I’m all about people and Facebook is a way of keeping up with said people.  I’m probably the only person that actually looks at all of the pictures from your trip to Spain last month.  I want to know what’s going on in your life and unlike the majority of Facebook-ers who are passively perusing your Facebook pages because it’s easier than verbal communication, for me it’s just more fuel for the face-to-face conversations.  So what I missed, if I missed anything, was knowing the little details people put up on their Facebooks.  But when it was all said and done– I didn’t miss it.

Sex Offender: Following writing a letter to a registered sex offender (here and here and here), I wanted more.  I contacted OASIS, the organization that I originally spoke to about sexual assault.  They have a 24-hour crisis line that they use volunteers for.  Anyone can call in– victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, children, people with questions, friend and family of people affected by any of these issues… etc.  OASIS was having a weekend-long session, teaching people about sexual assault and domestic violence and how to effectively handle situations that deal with both.

It was HEAVY.

Something that still weighs on my heart is the lack of support out there for people that struggle with those urges/act on them.  There are resources, websites, shelters, support groups…  all available for the victims/survivors.  But for those people that struggle with those thoughts and those urges and who eventually act on them and even for the people that don’t act on them…  there’s nothing.  There’s NOTHING.

That bothers me.

We have books for people that are bad with money or who covet it.  Therapists for people who don’t love themselves/make themselves throw up/don’t let themselves eat/cut their arms with razors.  Substance abuse problems?– there are programs specifically for you.  Into porn?– that one’s a popular outreach these days.  Prone to punching your wife?  Into the thrill you feel when she says no?…  sorry.  Nothing we can do.

That bothers me.

Why do Christians pick and choose who deserves our love?  our help?  our forgiveness?  our Lord?

(More on this later, maybe.)

Death Row: I wrote a letter to a woman on death row.  It was different from the letter I wrote to a registered sex offender, because there was no hiding the fact that I knew what she had done.  She knew why I was writing her.  I was writing her a letter in prison, after all.  It was also different, in that it wasn’t anonymous.  Part of the reason my letter to the sex offender was anonymous were for the obvious precautionary reasons.  But more than that, I didn’t want it to be a source of anything but encouragement.  I didn’t know what this particular person’s hangups were, what they struggle with, what a letter of encouragement from a woman [their age that they could easily see a picture of on Facebook] would do.  I wanted this letter to be different.  I wanted to be a name; to be a specific person that cares about this particular woman.

I wrote a letter to a woman that I was able to Google and, with a few clicks, learn the details of her story.  Convicted of a crime she committed when she was too young to drink, this woman succumbed to the pressures of finding something to belong to and killed two people in a gang-initiation.  My heart broke for her because I can relate to those feelings.  Oh, can I relate to those feelings.  I can understand that pressure.  I can understand wanting to belong.

Fear often drives us to act out of desperation.*

I haven’t heard back from her yet.  I don’t know if I will.  I think I may, but it’s already been several weeks.  Even if I don’t, the letter I wrote her could not have been much more divinely-inspired than it was.  I don’t need a response to know that it contained the words God wanted  her to hear.

*It’s an easy response to say that a lot of trouble would be saved if we would just find ourselves in God.  Sometimes** the easy responses are the correct responses.

**More on how most responses come too easily for me later.

death penalty.

20 Sep

Thirty-five states have the death penalty; fifteen do not.  New York and New Jersey abolished the death penalty as recently as 2007.  Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846.  Wisconsin in 1853.  In 2009, New Mexico abolished the death penalty.  However, it wasn’t retroactive, so two previously convicted inmates still sit on death row.

Since 1976, a total of 1226 people have been executed.  56% of the 1226 defendants executed were white, 35% were African-American, and 7% were Hispanic.  This is compared to the percentage distribution of murderers in the United States, which is 34% white, 35% black, and 30% unknown.  Also since 1976, there have been 130 people released from death row due to new evidence proving their innocence.  California, Florida, and Texas make up the states with the most death row inmates.  In total, Texas has had 463 executions– four times more than the next highest state, Virginia.  Eleven women have been executed since 1976.  1052 have died by lethal injection, 157 by electrocution, 11 by gas chamber, 3 by hanging, and 3 by firing squad.

Now, the costs.  The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the cost of sentencing murders to life imprisonment.  The average death row inmate spends 10.26 years on death row.  In North Carolina, the cost of spending a year in maximum security prison is $32,000.  When you add the costs for an inmate to spend 10.26 years on death row at $32,000 a year with the cost of actually killing him, which is $2.16 million dollars, it ends up costing about $3 million per inmate.  When you take all 1226 inmates and consider that it cost $3 million to put them on death row and then, consequently, end their lives… the total cost is $3.6 TRILLION dollars.

Most disturbing of all, since 1990 only seven countries have reported executing juveniles:  Iran, Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Pakistan, and…  the United States.  That’s right–  several countries with questionable ethics and us.  Of the thirty-five states that have the death penalty, nineteen have a minimum age eligibility of 16-years-old.  In five states the minimum age is 17-years-old.  Only eleven states have a minimum age of 18-years-old.

Really?  We’re executing juveniles?