When, last September, Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich stopped the execution of Joseph Murphy and granted him clemency, he reasoned that a childhood of “severe and sustained verbal, physical and sexual abuse from those who should have loved him” had left Murphy “destined for disaster.”
In that statement, Governor Kasich acknowledged our society’s cycle (really, progression) of violence – from child abuse to murder to execution – and acted to stop it. (At least for this one case – Ohio has 14 more executions scheduled between now and January 2014.)
Delaware’s Board of Pardons and Governor face a similar choice in the case of Robert Gattis, who is slated to be put to death on January 20. Gattis suffered through a childhood experts have described as “catastrophic to his development.” Beginning as a small child, he was raped and molested and otherwise physically abused, by multiple abusers, including close family members. This seriously impaired his ability to function as an adult.