Letters to the Editor

Published 2:25 am Sunday, August 3, 2008

By Staff
Group hopes to stop execution
Here we go again. On Thursday, July 31, Alabama will execute Arthur Thomas (no relation). We are again faced with a DNA issue. The state of Alabama is refusing to do DNA testing on evidence collected from the crime scene. Each time this happens I have to pause and ask myself why? Why would any opportunity be passed up that could prove a person's innocence? Why would any state not go back and do post-DNA testing when a person's life depends on it? After all, DNA testing has advanced leaps and bounds. Alabama is one of a very few states that will not do post-conviction DNA testing.
You might ask, does it cost too much to do the test? (When it concerns a human life, what‘s too much?) But that would not be the reason. As I sat in the governor's office last year when we were trying to get DNA testing for Darryl Grayson, The Innocence Project of New York was on conference call and not only did they believe that Grayson was innocent, they believed that a DNA test on the evidence could prove it. In fact, they believed it so strongly they offered to pay for the DNA test! The State of Alabama refused their offer and went on with the execution. I have to ask myself, am I satisfied with this system? Is it OK for people to be executed when all of the evidence is not in, when there are more tests available that could possibly prove innocence or confirm guilt.
Are we all in this together or not? I think we are. You might think “it's not me or my family members or friends.” The problem may not be sitting on our doorsteps right now, but it could happen to any of us or our family members without warning.
I believe that innocent people are executed in this country and I feel that when it comes down to life or death we not only have to be sure, we need to be 100 percent shotgun sure and any test available for us to use should be used. If a person is guilty we have proven ways of punishing them, but if an innocent person is executed, there is nothing we can do to make it right!
This is not about if you believe in the death penalty or not - it's about justice. Do you believe that all stones should be unturned before we decide to end someone's life. I do, because I believe in mankind, I believe in justice for us all.
We will be walking 30 miles along the Civil Rights route between Selma and Montgomery on Wednesday and Thursday to protest the execution and send a message to Gov. Bob Riley asking him to postpone the execution and to just do the DNA test. If you believe in justice, call the governor's office and say “Just do the DNA test, Gov. Riley.”
Together we can make a difference and bring Alabama into the 21st century. The number is 334-242-7100. Thank you!
Lisa Thomas
Brewton resident
Let O'Bannon Park be open for everyone
Last Saturday, July 19, as I was coming down Murder Creek in a small aluminum Jon boat, I passed through the swimming area of Fort Crawford Park. There were no less than 50 people swimming, sunbathing and throwing horseshoes, all having a nice day at the creek.
My mind went back to the happy times we once spent at O'Bannon, Brewton's most popular swimming spot for over 50 years.
O'Bannon Park is now locked off, the dressing house is run down and the tables and barbeque pits lay unused.
I couldn't keep from gritting my teeth at the thought that our tax dollars were spent locking off our only swimming spot. I asked around as to why.
I was told by several persons that the primary reason for closing the park was that the police department was having to patrol the area and decided that it was just better to lock it off. I decided to ask some questions.
I first went to the Brewton Police Department the next day and talked to Corporal Phil Jackson. I asked him how many patrol cars and drivers were on duty on weekends. He said five were on patrol on weekends, and substantially more during the week.
I then went to East Brewton and chatted with Jimmy Baisden, the officer on patrol. I first asked how many patrol officers East Brewton had in use. He said only one. I asked him how many bad problems that had this summer at Fort Crawford Park. He said “none.” He also mentioned that a group of citizens in East Brewton were trying to make Fort Crawford Park even better. I say thanks to them.
I now ask, why not clean up and open up O'Bannon Park? If need be, why not use inmate, state and county labor. Why not have BFI pick up there every week. Why not have a recreation area we can all be proud of.
I sincerely believe that more people would rather have a nice access to our beautiful creek than say, another walking trail or perhaps another Frisbee golf course.
Mason Fleming
Brewton