Remember Kenneth Foster…

…because there is a good chance that by the time many of you read this, he will be dead. He is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on Thursday evening. He will be executed for having committed the crime of murder. He will also be executed despite the fact that the executing state admits that he did not commit the crime of murder. How is this possible, you ask? Let’s back up.

Eleven years ago, Foster was driving a car with three passengers. One of the passengers left the car, got into an altercation and shot a man dead. The shooter was executed for this crime last year. At the time of the shooting, Kenneth Foster was 80 feet away in his car.

But Foster was sentenced to die as well under what’s known as the law of parties. The law imposes the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred. 1

As Amnesty International says:

This law abolishes the distinction between principal actor and accomplice in a crime and allows both to be held equally culpable. 2

Now think about this. A young man is in a car with three other friends. Without any prior discussion warning the others, one of them gets out of the car, walks 80 feet away, chases a man, then shoots him dead. His girlfriend claims it was a robbery. The young man in the car is aghast. WTF?

Unfortunately, even though he had no advance knowledge of not only the murder, but probably the robbery too (though he and his buddies were on an admitted robbery spree that night) and had no way of preventing it from happening, he is going to pay the ultimate price of his life for the sin of another man (shades of jesus). His two friends who were in the car with him were not even charged. The shooter was executed last year (this is Texas, remember).

Did I mention that he was black? Did I mention that there are four others scheduled to die in Texas this month? No? Well, there are: three more black men and a Latino. Two of them are already dead.

The victim’s childhood friend, who you would think would be bitter towards Foster, had this to say about the execution:

“the execution of a young man who didn’t even kill Mike [the victim, Michael LaHood]? That’s not justice… It’s senseless vengeance, a barbarism cloaked in the black robes of justice.” 3

Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and even the European Union has asked the State for clemency for Foster. (Governor Perry’s response to the European Union? That the US fought a war to be free of European influence, and “Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.” Such compassion, it makes you want to kick a kitten doesn’t it?)

If he is executed, he will be the 403rd person executed in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated in 1982.

What can you do? Most likely, nothing, although you could trying calling and asking for clemency for Mr. Foster. However, if they won’t listen to Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and the entire European Union, don’t hold your breath that your voice will count. Especially if you’re not from Texas.

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles:
Phone (512)406-5852
Fax (512)467-0945

Gov. Rick Perry
Phone (512)463-1782
Fax (512)463-1849

Or go here.

H/T Black Sun


[EDIT] Here’s the email I sent using the above link:

“Dear Governor Perry, Chairwoman Owens and Members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Members of the Texas Legislature:

Viewing the barbarism of the death penalty from a few states away, I have to tell you that Texas reminds me a lot of South Africa 25 years ago – a pariah, an aberration of humanity, a national and international laughing stock, and a shame.

I do hope that you have the sense to show some compassion for a fellow human being. I don’t disagree that Foster should be punished, for the fact that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and chose to be there. Life imprisonment is certainly adequate to punish him for what he did. Probably more so.

But now you have the opportunity to show the world that Texas is just not a cartoon caricature of a buffoon society, that it can enforce the rule of law, mete out punishment, and show mercy and minimize human suffering all at the same time.

The death of Kenneth Foster will serve no purpose other than blood lust, but his clemency at your hands will certainly advance the ideals of western civilization and America forward, not backward.

Wouldn’t you rather have that as your legacy, Governor?”

[EDIT 2] Yay! It worked.

11 thoughts on “Remember Kenneth Foster…

  1. That just makes me sick. Tell me again, why did you fight to keep the south? Sorta reminds me of what Henry David Thoreau said in Civil Disobedience, “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.”

    There’s a similar story which ran in a newspaper magazine over here about the children tried in American courts as adults, and given life sentences, often without the chance of parole. There is one such case which is so unfair it beggars belief. I’ll try and write a post about it and link back when it’s done. Great post, thought it really got my blood boiling in the morning.

  2. My estimate –

    At least 75% of the people who are in FAVOR of this young man meeting his ultimate fate at the hands of the state of Texas are also adamantly so “pro-life” that they would defend 150 cells from being used for research that would cure diseases.

    ahhhh, CHRIST.

  3. But Foster was sentenced to die as well under what’s known as the law of parties. The law imposes the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred.

    Unbelievable, just completely unbelievable.

  4. Viewing the barbarism of the death penalty from a few states away, I have to tell you that Texas reminds me a lot of South Africa 25 years ago – a pariah, an aberration of humanity, a national and international laughing stock, and a shame.

    Is this post about Kenneth Foster and the law of parties or about your dislike of the death penalty in general? To take issue with this execution (which I do also) and not clearly state that you are actually against all executions is misleading.

    I am an atheist who has lived in Texas my entire life. It is simply incorrect to compare Texas’s executions of criminals to the bigoted apartheid of South Africa.

    Since Foster did not actually kill anyone, he does not deserve to die. I agree with you that far. But do you really think that the real murderer deserves to live? That he should continue to draw breath when his victim never will again. That he can continue to see his family when the victim’s family has nothing but memories.

  5. Update from The Guardian U.K.:

    The Texas governor, Rick Perry, accepted a parole board recommendation and commuted the sentence of Kenneth Foster, who had been due to die via lethal injection this evening.

    Foster, 30, was the getaway driver in a 1996 murder but his sentence had been criticised as he had nothing to do with the shots being fired.

  6. @Ex

    The Texas governor, Rick Perry, accepted a parole board recommendation and commuted the sentence of Kenneth Foster, who had been due to die via lethal injection this evening.

    Wow. I never had one of my emails work so well before. 🙂

    @Curiosis

    My comparison of Texas to South Africa was a bit misleading. I wasn’t comparing the regimes, rather the perception of the world to them. Texas is a joke, and so was SA. No offense to you as a Texan, but that’s the way a lot of the world looks at Texas.

    I am glad Perry commuted his sentence, though.

  7. happily, i must say that by the time i read this, i am feeling overwhelmed because Mr. Kenneth Foster’s execution has turned out to be a life sentence! so that makes me simply happy, he’s not a free man but justice has been done!

  8. Texas, Louisiana (the Jena Six), the rest of the Deep South – does anybody really think they’ve come all that far since the Klan murdered Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerner? They pretend it’s all about the law now, and the Klan keeps their robes hidden in the closet. The North isn’t in such great shape either, and with the Conservative neanderthals running the Supreme Court and insanity ruling the White House and Justice, the white power assholes are on the move again.

  9. Ric said: “They pretend it’s all about the law now, and the Klan keeps their robes hidden in the closet.”

    Or, switched the white robes for black ones.

    Some might recognize that I stole that one from an old joke about Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. As a youth, he was a Klansman. He was greatly feared when he made it all the way to the Supreme Court but, happily, became a great advocate for the First Amendment and was a key vote in several civil rights matters. And so the saying:

    “As a young man he frightened black people with his white robe. As an old man he frightened white people with his black one”.

  10. The post I meant to write earlier is here.

    To Jammy: Though it is good that he is no longer being put to death, I don’t think we can say justice has been done. Only when he is freed and been rightfully compensated, can we say injustice has been undone.

  11. to XanderG,
    true my friend, i obviously agree with you, but since we made a big step and he’s still alive, we can now fight more so someday he can taste freedom again!

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