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Beth Chapman: Was ‘justice’ really served?

I’ll take the names out of it so it’s not so personal. Last week the state executed a man who killed his ex-girlfriend in 1994 – 28 years ago.

He was put to death by lethal injection, which is supposedly the most humane procedure to put someone to death.

The officials involved said, “Justice has been served.” Legally speaking, it had, but I could not help but think in other ways it had not.

See, justice has not been served in that the man put to death was allowed to live more years after he killed his victim than the total number of years she lived in her 26-year lifetime.

After being convicted for murder unanimously by a jury of his peers, he was given the three basic necessities of life: food, shelter, clothing and more — expense free by Alabama taxpayers — that’s you and me. He did not get these free necessities for a year or two or three. He got them for 28 years – almost three decades. Also, he was provided legal assistance that filed countless appeals on his behalf. All were denied.

I couldn’t help but wonder if his ex-girlfriend, whom he shot three times, would have preferred the more humane procedure of a lethal injection had she been given the choice. But she had no choice, and she wasn’t given 28 more years to live. She wasn’t given 28 years of free food, medical care or offered a final meal of her choice before she died. She wasn’t allowed time to raise her three- and six-year-old little girls or to see them grow up. She was denied all that, plus the countless other things a 26-year-old young mother gets to do.

So, was justice really served? Is it ever really served when someone takes another person’s life?

Yes, I believe in the need for capital punishment, but it doesn’t necessarily mean “justice” has been served – only that the law has been carried out, and that is as much “justice” as our victims can have.

I appreciate our officials — Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and others — who see that justice in these cases is served and our laws are upheld. It can’t be an easy job, but in cases like this, it is the most anyone can do for these victims.

Beth Chapman is Alabama’s former State Auditor and 51st Secretary of State. She now owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC. This is her weekly column, “Around the Capitol” published in newspapers and blogs across the state. She can be reached at Beth@bethchapman.com.