Op-Ed

Death Row inmate has reformed

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Kentucky Department of Corrections shows inmate Gregory L. Wilson.  Gov. Steve Beshear set a Sept. 16 execution date for Wilson, but held off signing two other death warrants Wednesday because there is a shortage of a key drug used in executions. Beshear signed the warrant, saying all of Wilson's appeals "as a matter of right" had been exhausted. (AP Photo/Kentucky Department of Corrections, File)
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Kentucky Department of Corrections shows inmate Gregory L. Wilson. Gov. Steve Beshear set a Sept. 16 execution date for Wilson, but held off signing two other death warrants Wednesday because there is a shortage of a key drug used in executions. Beshear signed the warrant, saying all of Wilson's appeals "as a matter of right" had been exhausted. (AP Photo/Kentucky Department of Corrections, File) AP

At issue | Sept. 11 Associated Press story, "Judge halts Kentucky execution set for next week"

As Gregory Wilson is now on front pages and a topic of public discussion, I ask to put a face and character to the person the governor says should be killed in the name of Kentucky's citizens.

I bear witness that he is not the same man who committed the crime.

I have known Gregory for six years, through many letters and visits at the penitentiary. I know the story of his capital crime, also the story of his life before it, beginning with abusive "initiation" into his sexuality before he had even started school.

He was also brought into secrecy and confusion about himself and about moral action, and, predictably, into the juvenile justice system.

Suffice to say, the rest of his story includes crime and years and years of incarceration — but no effective interventions, counseling or education that might have saved both his life and Deborah Pooley's.

The conversion of the criminal into the man he is now began with pastoral interventions by persons who could see him as a redeemable human being.

When he also could so see himself, he was baptized into a life of prayer, Scripture and weekly religious services, which he has led for two decades on Death Row. He is deeply sorrowful for the suffering he caused both Pooley and her parents; his wish for years has been to ask their forgiveness.

I have seen him interact with guards at the penitentiary, always with respect and courtesy, which they also show to him.

Gregory also has a good influence on his fellow inmates, an influence he could extend to the younger men who will be released back into our society. He is not, and absolutely never would be, a threat to anyone's safety.

So I ask: Is it either practical or moral to kill such a man?

One need not be religious to answer, "No!"

But Kentuckians must do more than lament the folly and injustice of this killing.

Let our leaders hear from us by letters to them and to the newspapers, by all the means we have to make our voices heard: "No, Gov. Steve Beshear. Not in my name!"

  Comments