CNN has launched an excellent new series of documentaries: DEATH ROW STORIES. I won't be watching it.
A friend called just before the first show aired last night to make certain that I would tune in. I did, and it was a heart-wrenching story...a story that brought back too many unpleasant memories.
Edward Lee Elmore's story was the subject of the first episode. The likable African American with a low IQ had been wrongly convicted under shameful circumstances, and it was decades before a dedicated team secured his freedom...just days before he would have been executed.
It reminded me of a dear friend, another likable African American with a low IQ, who has also been wrongly convicted. He's here in Michigan so fortunately he's not on death row. But he's in for life. Andre's story includes police officers who demanded that he sign a document of confession when, as a young man, he could not read or write. I don't think he knows, to this day, what was in that document that he signed.
It reminded me of another dear friend, a likable African American, who was wrongly convicted in Texas. Because of our friendship, Anthony asked if I would be his spiritual adviser at the time of his execution. There was no team of legal warriors to get to the bottom of this man's story. Instead, I had the privilege of praying with him in Huntsville just before the state put him to death. I hope I never have to go through an experience like that again.
It reminded me of another dear friend, a likable African American named Maurice Carter. My nine year battle to help this wrongly convicted Michigan prisoner led to this career in inmate advocacy. Despite all the efforts of a huge team of dedicated legal eagles, the state refused to admit its wrongdoings. Maurice was granted a compassionate release because he was dying. And even though we knew the identity of the real shooter in the crime, Maurice died 10 years ago as a convicted felon.
By the end of last night's show I was a wreck. Too many memories. Too many tears shed over injustice and our callous indifference to the plight of the wrongly convicted. There are times when I find it difficult to believe just how inhumanely we can treat fellow human beings.
The new CNN series on Sunday night is a show that you must not miss.
It's a show that I will miss.
May God grant us the wisdom to learn from these powerful presentations.