Who is Lawrence Russell Brewer?

Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore you do not kill or cause to be killed.

I suppose everyone has heard about Troy Davis, the black man convicted of killing a white police officer. Even though Davis has maintained his innocence until the very end, despite the lack of evidence and despite most of the witnesses renouncing their incriminating statements, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

In spite of international protest, Davis was executed in Georgia, USA, on September 21.

It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.
Rabbi Maimonides

So who is Russel Brewer?

Brewer, a white supremacist, slid the throat of James Byrd, Jr., an African-American, along with two accomplices. They proceeded to tie the still conscious man to the back of a truck with heavy chains and drag him over an asphalt road until his head and limbs were ripped off. Because of the victim’s race. Brewer confessed to the crime and said “As far as any regrets, no, I have no regrets. No, I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.”

Brewer was sentenced to death and executed on September 21, 2011, in Texas, USA. There was little media coverage and next to no public outcry. After all, he deserved to die, right?


Who has the right to condemn another human to die?
Who has the right to hit the switch, pull the trigger, inject the poison?

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.
Jesus Christ


4 thoughts on “Who is Lawrence Russell Brewer?

  1. There are always “borderline” cases for any capital punishment, which – even for those people normally against such punishment – do not serve as a trigger for public outcry. Probably because some crimes are just so ugly, that no one in their right mind would want to even try to come up with arguments in favour of the criminal.
    However, the laws, regardless of whether capital punishment may be a death sentence, or anything else, regardless of the society, should always be applied with the same measure. I think our primary goal as a society, concerning jurisdiction, should be to ensure the latter. Then, whatever comes out of it, will apply to everyone, including a murderer like Brewer. Even though we may not like the outcome, we should be consequent about it.

    In my opinion, no one “deserves” to die, but I could see a death by law justified it it avoids a greater damage. There’s the obvious case of law enforcers being allowed to apply lethal force when innocent lifes are in danger. There may be other cases. Either way: If a criminal can be brought to justice in a way that he will never (keeping in mind that absolute certainty is an illusion) be more of a danger to society than the average non-criminal citizen, then a death sentence should be out of the question. If such a criminal can be resocialized to a point where he learns to understand and regret what he did and the consequences, to the point that he is no more a danger to anyone – all the better, then why not consider releasing them?

    Even though, we as individuals feel strongly about things when we are directly concerned (And I assume I would make no exception to the rule) – revenge really serves no purpose. However, effecting an overly harsh punishment ruines life even more than it already is ruined for those victims of faulty court decisions. It is hard to revoke a death sentence once it’s been applied.

    • true words.

      I just wanted to bring attention to Brewer, tho, because Davis even made it into the top notch German news cast, but I only heard about the other case, because it was on the Amnesty website.
      And yes, I realize that he’s not the token prisoner of choice for a human-rights-campaign, yet I do believe it is to easy to attach the cause to a case where there was considerable doubt.

      If the goal is to abolish capital punishment, then we must realize that this will apply even to gruesome confessed murderer.

      • I have in the past actually argued in favour of death sentences in cases where it would make life considerably better for the victim of a violent crime. I think the psychological impact of knowing that whoever inflicted so much pain to you is still alive and can issue threats to you, pass the word on to some acquaintance to threaten you – that is a big part of what all victims of violence have to cope with. Depending on what was done to them, and depending on the victim’s stance on this, it would be easier to live your life knowing that the person who did so much damage to you was dead.
        I still think this would be a justification for a death sentence. However, it is of theoretical significance only, since it would not apply to murderers, and would mean a perpetrator, faced with a situation were they already did commit serious violence against some victim, would be better off killing the victim, to avoid a death sentence in case he is caught and found guilty. And there’s just too many opportunities to abuse such a penalty to get rid of people that are “inconvenient”. But I am straying off-topic 🙂

        Sorry for the use of a pseudo btw – I am not enthusiastic about spreading my personal information around.

  2. rest assured I have no idea who you are 😉

    Anyhow, I do see the point in your argument, however, then the justice system would serve to fulfill the needs of victims rather than punish the crime by set standards.
    So, if a victim felt better after torturing the attacker, (http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-19/world/acid.attack.victim_1_acid-attack-blind-eye) should we let them?

    And if a victim was especially forgiving, should that reduce the sentence?

    Above all, of course, what if the victim isn’t around anymore…
    So, yeah, I get why someone would want the felon to die, I just don’t see it as a justification for capital punishment in a civilized law system.

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