Home / Fall 2013 / Fighting for your right to live

Fighting for your right to live

Written by: Von Kennedy 

Imagine getting in trouble with the law as a juvenile. How scared would you be to go to trial?

George Stinney was not only accused of the murder of two white girls in 1944, but his trial lasted less than two hours, and the jury sentenced him to death in less than 10 minutes.

Stinney, only 14 years old, 5 feet 2 inches tall and less than 90 pounds, was executed by electrocution after confessing to the murders.

He remains the youngest person executed in US history.

Now, Stinney could be in line for exoneration posthumously after 70 years in South Carolina.

Lawyers and supporters of Stinney are fighting to introduce new evidence to, at best, acquit or pardon him.

The death penalty issue needs to be addressed more than race in this situation.

Regardless of the race of the accused or victim, the process to gain a new trial or the length and limit of how many appeals for death row inmates should be examined.

Stinney was executed 84 days after his sentence.

Because of appeals, it takes most death row inmates decades to be executed, and even with the most swaying new evidence, they probably will not be granted a new trial.

With an inmate’s guilt and life at stake, I believe that once compelling, new evidence is found and displayed to the court, a new trial should be immediately held at its earliest convenience.

This will undercut the lengthy appeals process, lessen the average number of years an inmate can be on death row and allow inmates with questionable initial trials to have their say once their evidence is compiled.

Charles Manson need not apply. Inmates who are found guilty overwhelmingly by being caught in the act and/or by physical and forensic evidence should not be allowed to be considered.

When your life is all you have, you should have the right to fight for it – a right that young George Stinney did not have in his segregated society back in 1944 but could soon have today.

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