Without a death sentence, as I understand, there is just one appeal, after which we never have to hear the killer’s name again.
But it’s worth celebrating Virginia, the “home of the Confederacy,” as the first state in the old Confederate South to abolish the death penalty. The two facts are related, because the death penalty cannot be separated from our history of race and slavery in America.
None of us is above reproach and none of us is beyond redemption. That is a core truth of the Christian faith. And it is a truth that is undermined every time we execute someone.
Whatever motivated the shouts and signals from so many vehicles, it became clear to me in that moment that even if I knew nothing else about Jesus, I would rather be with the people of peace gathered on that corner than with the angry masses calling for death.
One can only hope that executing people is one of the things we don’t want to return to.