I receive dozens of political messages every day, and seldom forward any of them. Usually they are either of such dramatic scope I assume everyone knows about them, or I feel they’re a matter of personal preference and conscience. But this is a little different.
I’m passing along the ACLU post in this case whole cloth. All that I can add is that I have a great deal of personal evidence indicating that childhood sexual abuse is more profoundly disturbing than it is possible for most people who have not experienced it to imagine. Current findings indicate that the resulting trauma actually causes major changes in brain function, including extensive damage to the hippocampus, which can result in abberant and violent behavior seen in some war-trauma victims. I do not think any rational, thinking, compassionate person can seriously feel that capital punishment is the correct choice in this case.
From the ACLU:
I am writing to respectfully request the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons review the case of Terry Williams, including new evidence submitted this week, and grant him clemency.
Mr. Williams — who suffered years of physical and sexual abuse from older males, eventually killing two of his abusers while in his teens — should be granted clemency because the original trial court never heard about the horrifying relationship between teen-aged Williams and the deceased, including evidence of repeated sexual assault of Williams. Five jurors have signed affidavits swearing knowledge of this information would have changed their vote to life in prison. Additionally, the judge and jury never learned about the prosecutor’s agreement to assist the co-defendant’s request for parole in exchange for his testimony against Williams.
Mr. Williams is deeply remorseful about his actions so long ago and the victim’s widow agrees his life should be spared. I join 22 former prosecutors and judges, 34 law professors, 40 mental health professionals and over three dozen faith leaders from across Pennsylvania, among other advocates, to urge that you vote to grant clemency to Mr. Williams.