Will Pennsylvania Execute A Victim Of Child Sexual Abuse?

Terrance Williams is facing execution in Pennsylvania on October 3.  Repeatedly sexually abused by older boys and men as a youth (starting when he was six years old), he was sent to death row for killing Amos Norwood – one of his abusers, according to the clemency petition – three months after his 18th birthday.

What Terrance Williams did was, indeed, criminal.  Killing is never an appropriate response, even to the most heinous of abuses.

But maybe that’s the point.

Wouldn’t killingTerrance Williams now, in retaliation for his crime, be just as wrong as the crime Williams committed in response to the abuse he suffered?  Lots of people think so.

Five of the trial jurors, the widow of the victim, and 30 child advocates and experts on child abuse have called on Pennsylvania to commute the death sentence in this case. So have 18 former prosecutors, 8 retired judges, and 47 mental health professionals.


From Heartbreaking Child Abuse To Pointless Execution

daniel cook

Even his prosecutor now opposes his execution, Arizona is planning to execute Daniel Cook on August 8.

Working to abolish the death penalty can sometimes be an emotionally challenging enterprise. We are immersed in a world where people suffer unimaginable losses, and we’re constantly reading about heinous crimes inflicted with brutal violence. Some of those crimes, of course, are murders. But often we are reading about another type of crime: violent child abuse, which is a defining experience for many who end up on death row.

Daniel Cook in Arizona is a case in point. Abused from infancy, he took the all too familiar path from horrific family violence to mental illness to drug abuse to violent crime to death row:

Shocking video from Sri Lankan camp for displaced civilians

I just watched a shocking video from Channel 4 News, a British television company, taken inside one of the camps set up by the Sri Lankan government for civilians fleeing from the war zone.  The Sri Lankan government has in recent months reconquered much of the territory formerly held by the opposition Tamil Tigers, who have been seeking an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority in the north and east of the island.  As the Tigers have lost territory, they have forced thousands of Tamil civilians to move with them.  At this point, an estimated 50,000 civilians are still being held as human shields by the Tigers in a small coastal strip in northeastern Sri Lanka, surrounded by the Sri Lankan army on three sides.

Over 150,000 Tamil civilians have managed to flee the war zone this year.  They have been placed by the Sri Lankan government in camps which they are restricted from leaving.  Access to the camps by journalists and aid agencies is limited by the government.

The Channel 4 News video includes shocking claims of shortages of food and water, dead bodies left for days and even sexual abuse.  The Sri Lankan government has dismissed the claims in the video as Tiger propaganda.  AI cannot confirm whether the claims in the video are accurate or not.  We are asking that the Sri Lankan government allow independent observers, including journalists and aid agencies, full and prompt access to all of the camps.

Watch the video here: