A Mother’s Love
Mary Johnson, mother of a murder victim, demonstrates how a mother’s love can endure formidable challenges. This is the second of a four part series on the death penalty. When preparing to write about the death penalty, I read various articles on the topic and conducted interviews of persons on both sides of the issue.
While doing my research, I was afforded the opportunity to speak with a woman whose brother is on death row for a murder. It was a rare opportunity for me to speak with someone that close to an issue of this magnitude. In speaking with her, I had an opportunity to learn about the devastating effects that a death row sentence has not simply on the accused but on the family of the accused as well. In this case, the accused vehemently asserts that he did not commit the crime that he was convicted of committing. In fact, there is very compelling evidence that he did not commit the crime. This case has been appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Because the wheels of justice turn very slowly, he has been on death row for over two decades. What a horrible state of being—you know that you are innocent. Yet, you are trapped behind prison walls awaiting your execution date. It was clear in speaking with the family that the day that the accused was convicted of murder and given a death sentence that a part of the family died.
In order to capture the varied perspectives on this very controversial topic, I sought
to interview opponents and proponents of the death penalty. While conducting my
research on the death penalty, a friend emailed me an interview conducted on National Public Radio (NPR) of a woman whose son was murdered. The young man convicted of killing her son was not sentenced to death. Instead, the murderer spent many years in prison and has been released. NPR interviewed the mother of the murder victim as well as the person that committed the murder.[i]
The mother of the murder victim is Mary Johnson. The man that murdered her son is
Oshea Israel. Unlike many murder stories, this is a tale about redemption and should be heard by all. In listening to the story which was aired by National Public Radio, like me, you will learn that Ms. Johnson not only harbors no resentment toward, her son’s murderer, Oshea Israel, to the contrary Mary hopes that Oshea lives a happy, healthy, and productive life. The NPR interview closes with Mary and Oshea expressing their love for one another much like you would hear from a mother and her son. The forgiveness that Mary demonstrates for her son’s murderer and the faith that she demonstrates in Oshea’s ability to make the remainder of his life a success is truly remarkable.
In this murder case, there is no doubt that Oshea Israel took the life of Ms. Johnson’s son. Despite the devastating loss of her son to a senseless murder, Ms. Johnson is not crying out to the criminal system to have, Oshea Israel, the murderer, put to death.
On the contrary, Mary wishes that Oshea Israel lives a happy, healthy, and productive life near her so that she can share in his successes. This extraordinary story can be found be on National Public Radio’s website and is dated May 20, 2011. This remarkable story reported by National Public Radio is entitled, “Forgiving Her Son’s Killer: Not An Easy Thing”.
It is my hope that this series on the death penalty will generate thoughtful conversations about this topic. Toward that goal, in my last two posts on this topic, I will examine:
(1) whether or not capital punishment accomplishes its stated goals; and (2) public opinions on the death penalty.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Sources: “Forgiving Her Son’s Killer: Not An Easy Thing”, National Public Radio, by NPR Staff, May 20, 2011.
[i] “Forgiving Her Son’s Killer: Not An Easy Thing”, National Public Radio, by NPR Staff, May 20, 2011.