Equal Justice for Victims
A strident voice for the voiceless
By Steven Martinovich
“It must be death penalty supporters’ goal to convince the American people – and their representatives – that they should no longer accept the judiciary as fit to decide capital punishment sentencing cases, or indeed fit to decide anything of importance. We must shield the law-abiding not only from lawless predators but from lawless judges and justices who protect them”
So is the declared mission statement of Dr. Lester Jackson, author of the recently released effort Equal Justice for Victims: A Blueprint for the Rightful Restoration of Capital Punishment, a withering assault on those he accuses of subverting the American constitution, murder victims and those left behind by gradually chipping away at the use of the death penalty. Few are spared his ire with the US Supreme Court leading the way thanks to rulings that he argues have made it virtually impossible to secure a death sentence for those who murder the innocent.
Jackson states that although the US has been made a pariah on the issue of the death penalty by nations who disapprove of its use, the reality of its employment in America is less common than most would suppose. “Between 1972 and 2014, there were 1,392 executions for 813,400 murders” – or about 0.17% -- while in Texas, allegedly a death penalty happy state, “[b]etween 1972 and 2014…there were 518 executions for 73,518 murders”, translating to about 0.7%. Essentially, he maintains, that someone committing murder in the United States has nearly a 100% chance of avoiding the death penalty.
The primary cause for this, states Equal Justice for Victims, is a US Supreme Court judiciary that has actively subverted a constitution which explicitly permits capital sentences in several places. Employing tortured logic, something that even the more honest of the death penalty opponents on the highest court in the land have admitted to in their rulings, they somehow determined that capital punishment should be limited in scope and usage. Where once no one was immune to the ultimate punishment, writes Jackson, the court has issued multiple rulings which have made it difficult to apply to even the most egregious of offenders.
Even worse, he argues, the justices have made attacks on the standby to the death penalty, the sentence of life without parole. The justices have ruled and discussed in their writings that a true life sentence may be overdoing it to those who show little compunction of levying their own death penalties on the innocent.
It is not only the justices, however, that are targets for Jackson’s withering pen. Those he describes bluntly as “Pro Murderer”, criminal defense attorneys, politicians, activists and even family members of victims who oppose the death penalty, employ every sophistry and intellectual or emotional trick to advance their cause. Those like Sister Helen Prejean, made famous by Hollywood treatment Dead Man Walking, refuse to consider the horrific crimes of those they advocate for or openly dismiss the suffering caused.
Equal Justice for Victims is openly and unapologetically passionate – or as Jackson’s critics would argue, strident – in arguing that the use of the death penalty must be radically expanded for the crime of murder. Jackson details the resistance he’s faced from both opponents and proponents of the death penalty. Editors ostensibly in favour of the death penalty have refused his essays while supporters have refused to combine their efforts to create a truly national movement to pressure politicians and courts to take into account the opinion of a majority of Americans – not to mention the original intent of the country’s Constitution.
Jackson argues that supporters of the death penalty need to become much more active and, in his words, wage war against their opponents. He advocates that many of the same tactics used by death penalty opponents, such as delegitimizing them, need to be employed. Politicians who stand against the death penalty need to lose at the ballot box and the power of the judiciary to ignore written law and the will of the people needs to be circumscribed. This is not, he says, a battle to be fought decently.
While the self-published Equal Justice for Victims would have benefited a bit from more professional layout and a bit of editing to tighten it up, there is no denying the sheer passion that Dr. Lester Jackson brings to the subject. Advocates for the death penalty often come across as slightly apologetic, almost as embarrassed by the ramifications of what they are arguing for, but the same cannot be said for Jackson. Unlike those people, virtually every page of his book drips with figurative outrage on behalf of those who no longer have a voice. To the topic he brings both intellectual and emotional artillery and a game plan that arguably would bring far more success to his movement than those who consider themselves his allies.
Steven Martinovich is the founder and editor of Enter Stage Right.
Buy Equal Justice for Victims at Amazon.com here.