Phillip Workman was killed by the people of Tennessee last night. Lt. Oliver was killed either by Phillip Workman or a stray bullet in 1981. Unfortunately for the families and loved ones of these two men, the action taken in our name last night did nothing to reverse their pesonal tragedies. The arguments over he death penalty go on and on, and the state of Tennessee has not been incredibly aggressive in enforcing death. The death penalty has become unusual in Tennessee. As a state, we are clearly conflicted enough to render its use unusual, but we are simultaneously numb enough to allow it to happen in a case of ambigous and disputed proof like Workman's. And if risking the execution of innocents is not cruel, we have lost all sense of that word.
It is time to stop. Real justice must include certainty when the punishment is final. It was unjust for Lt. Oliver to die, but it is also unjust for Phillip Workman to die. Killing Phillip Workman will not save a single life. Because the action was undertaken in my name, as a citizen of Tennessee, I have a right and a duty to point out that all we did last night was add another name to the list of victims from that night in 1981.