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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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** ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY SEPT. 30 ** FILE ** Alabama’s lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., is pictured in this Oct. 7, 2002 file photo. Alabama has joined a growing list of Southern states facing court challenges to their method of capital punishment. A trial starting Oct. 3 will determine whether Alabama’s lethal injection procedures cause the condemned to suffer unconstitutionally cruel pain before they die and whether Alabama might have to temporarily halt executions as Florida did.(AP Photo/File)

People familiar with my website, The First Street Journal, know that I am opposed to capital punishment; it is my view that if we have a man held helplessly enough that he cannot prevent his execution, then we have him held helplessly enough that he is not a threat to society. Be that as it may, this action on the part of the state of Alabama was just witless:

Muslim inmate executed in Alabama after legal battle over imam’s presence

By Darran Simon, CNN | Updated 6:50 AM ET | Friday, February 8, 2019

CNN — A Muslim inmate who argued his religious rights were violated because Alabama would not allow his imam by his side at his execution was put to death Thursday night.

Domineque Ray, 42, was sentenced to death in 1999 for his part in the 1995 rape and murder of a teenage girl, Tiffany Harville, in Selma, Alabama. His co-defendant in the case, Marcus Owden, is serving life without parole.

“Due to the nature of his crime, the decision of a jury to condemn him to death and because our legal system has worked as designed, Mr. Ray’s sentence was carried out,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

“Courts at every level have upheld Mr. Ray’s conviction for his senseless act. Accordingly, the laws of this state have been carried out. It is my prayer that, with tonight’s events, Miss Harville’s family can finally have closure.”

The Supreme Court voted Thursday to lift a stay for the death row inmate. He had argued his religious rights were violated because he couldn’t have his imam by his side at his execution.

Alabama’s policy is to have a Christian chaplain in the room, who often kneels next to the death row prisoner and will pray with the inmate if asked.

Ray and his attorneys petitioned the court late last month to have the chaplain excluded from the room and for the imam to be there to give spiritual guidance and comfort. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday granted a stay of the execution, which was scheduled for Thursday at Holman Correctional Facility.

There’s more at the original, but to summarize, the state has a policy that only state employees may be present in the death chamber; there is a Christian chaplain on the state payroll. A Muslim imam, who has passed previous security checks, makes monthly visits to the ten Muslim men on the state’s death row.

Allowing the imam to replace the Christian chaplain would have been easy enough to do; simply issue a waiver for the process. Whether or not this would have been any comfort to the executed prisoner in his final moments I cannot say, but I can say one thing: by not granting this simple request, the state was forced to spend more of the taxpayers’ dollars to go through the legal channels, all the way up to the Supreme Court, to get the execution allowed. Given the stay issued by the 11th Circuit, it was entirely possible that the Supreme Court would have kept the stay in place; the state was risking its ability to carry out this execution by its position.

Wouldn’t it have been less expensive, and more efficient, to grant Mr Ray’s request? There would have been no harm done to the state, nor to Mr Ray’s victim’s family, to have granted that simple request.
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Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.