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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Carter death sentence: Some thoughts on Maurice Carter Day

October 25 is Maurice Carter Day. Here in our office, we observe this day every year, remembering the date that Maurice Carter breathed his last on this earth. He died in 2004.

On this Maurice Carter Day, the death penalty is on my mind, probably because I’ve spent time this week with Sister Helen Prejean, prominent death penalty foe. As I introduced her to the audience at a public lecture Tuesday night, I explained that Michigan does not have the death penalty. Then I asked the question, “Or does it?”

I used the Maurice Carter story as a typical example.

Maurice was wrongly convicted on a charge of assault with intent to commit murder in 1975, and he was given a life sentence. I contend it was a death sentence, based on the following facts:

-He was eligible for parole in 15 years, but because of dirty politics, he never even had the opportunity to be paroled.

-20 years after his prison doctors diagnosed Hepatitis C, but failed to tell him. One can only assume that this was done on purpose, because then he might require costly treatment.

-8 years later, in 2003, Maurice was rushed from the prison by ambulance to a private hospital. That’s the first he knew he had the disease but then he was also informed that now it was Hep C/End Stage.

-The only thing that could save his life was a liver transplant, but Michigan prisoners may not have organ transplants. Which means, the only thing that could save his life would be a compassionate release by the Governor. Then he could get the new liver.

-One year later, in 2004, Governor Granholm finally granted the request for a commutation of his sentence for medical reasons, but it was too late.

-Maurice lived for 3 months upon his release. He died on October 25, 2004.

I blame the State of Michigan. I contend that Maurice Carter received a death sentence.

On Maurice Carter Day, 2018, I’d like to state my strong opposition, once again, to life without parole. That is a death sentence.

Says the Guardian, a British daily newspaper:  Article three of the European convention on human rights prohibits "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Most European countries have judged that telling prisoners they will die in jail is just that.

Yep. Just that. 

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