This morning’s Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that a Tarrant County jury needed less than hour to recommend a life without parole sentence for Jeff Dodson, convicted of killing a store clerk. Like the majority of people who make it to death row in the United States, Dodson had mental health issues, a difficult childhood, and his crime involved the use of alcohol or drugs.
This morning’s questions are:
Do either life imprisonment or the death penalty really get at restoring any sense of justice or are both just retribution? Capital cases raise the issue of restorative justice for us once again.
And if Jeff Dodson can get life without parole, why can’t Jeff Wood?
As we ponder these questions, however, this morning’s news leaves me feeling hopeful that even if we can’t save Jeff Wood, there are better days coming in Texas.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys David Richards and Jack Strickland said that the fact that Dodson’s brother, Theodis, received a life sentence may have factored into the jury’s decision.
Strickland said that juries also seem to be less inclined to impose a death sentence than they were several years ago, especially when there is only one victim.
Maybe not the glowing abolitionist talk that I would want to hear, but as Gandhi said,
Every small step in the right direction should be viewed as a monumental achievement.
Especially when dealing with massive systemic change, such as removing the British colonial imperial occupying force from your country or ending capital punishment.