A U.S. soldier convicted of rape and murder two decades ago will be executed December 10 in the nation's first military execution since 1961, the Army said Thursday.
Pvt. Ronald Gray has been on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, since 1988. A court-martial panel sitting at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, unanimously convicted him of committing two murders and other crimes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area, and sentenced him to death.
Gray pleaded guilty in civilian court to the crimes and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. In his military court martial he was sentenced to death.
It brings up the question that often arises, is sentencing a man to slow death in prison even worse than a quick death by injection? Could that be used as a defense of capital punishment?
Of course my answer is no. Even if spending fifty years in prison is crueler than the death sentence, it may be our only option. If the man cannot be trusted in society, what else can we do? He was a young soldier when he committed the crimes. There may have been mitigating circumstances such as childhood abuse. There may be reason to conclude that anyone who does such acts is not of sound mind, a theory which I subscribe to. But regardless, the image of strapping Pvt. Ronald Gray to a gurney and pushing a needle into his vein with the intention of extinguishing his life, is so barbaric that I want nothing to do with it. In my opinion it puts the proponents of such barbarism on the same level as the rapists and murderers they are so quick to kill.
What's your opinion?
The last U.S. military execution was in 1961, when Army Pvt. John Bennett was hanged for raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. Bennett was sentenced in 1955.
The U.S. military hasn't actively pursued an execution for a military prisoner since President John F. Kennedy commuted a death sentence in 1962. Nine men are on military death row.
How about that? The last military execution was for rape and attempted murder. I know the capital punishment believers would say that Pvt. Bennett has not hurt any more 11-year olds. This is supposed to be one of the reasons for exterminating these sick men. I say there are other ways of protecting society. What do you think?