Monday, February 21, 2005

The Death of Innocents

There are no exceptions for those who proclaim they want the death penalty abolished completely. For them, there is no crime too horrific or circumstance that warrants it. Ever. One of those individuals is Sister Helen Prejean, the author of DEAD MAN WALKING and the person Susan Sarandon portrayed in the movie by the same name.

Prejean is a skilled writer so her lapses in THE DEATH OF INNOCENTS are not due to inexperience. She writes purposefully with one simple goal in mind: to inflame passions.

Prejean's one-sidedness is blatant. The two men whose cases she examines, both of whom she claims are innocent of the crimes they were executed for, are wonderful, noble, courageous individuals who are the true victims of a system filled with injustice and corruption. (Yeah, they had long criminal histories Prejean writes, but heck, they say they were abused as children so they're not really responsible for what they did.) Those individuals who supported them are wonderful, noble, perky, and incredibly intelligent.

Everyone else is filth. Prejean even goes so far as to slime either the victims themselves or members of their family.

While Prejean includes anything and everything that is sympathetic to the two murderers (and through them, her cause) she conveniently omits whatever isn't.

One such omission (which I verified separately) involving an O'Dell conviction Prejean completely fails to mention, is described here in an Amazon review.

At the time of the Schartner murder in Virginia, O'Dell had been recently paroled from Florida where he had been serving a 99 year sentence for a 1976 Jacksonville abduction that almost ended in a murder of the female victim (had not police arrived) in the back of his car. The circumstances of that crime were almost identical to those surrounding Schartner's murder.
Another reviewer notes:

It is intellectually dishonest to keep repeating that O'Dell is innocent without a serious examination of the evidence and a discussion of that evidence. This book does neither.

A third writes:

So many of the statements she makes in this book regarding the Dobie Williams case are distorted. It doesn't seem that accuracy and truth are as important to Sister Prejean as promoting her views on the death penalty. She did not even show enough respect to the victim in this horrible crime to spell her name correctly.

I'll add one more item that Sister Prejean either forgot about or distorted beyond recognition in writing THE DEATH OF INNOCENTS: The Ninth Commandment.



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