7 Hours from Death: A Conversation with William Neal Moore
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Posted by: Evan Mascagni
On November 20, 2008, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law was privileged and honored to have William Neal Moore come share his extraordinary life story…
In a society whose criminal justice system values an "eye for an eye” mentality, William Neal Moore’s story raises serious questions as to whether justice is truly carried out through the implementation of the death penalty. In Mr. Moore’s plea to encourage law students to do their part to help reform the flaws within our criminal justice system, he said, "No one is beyond redemption, even people on death row. The death penalty is the state carrying out revenge, nothing more, nothing less."
Mr. Moore’s story is truly unique because, unlike others who once resided on death row and speak out about their innocence, Mr. Moore’s story is not one of innocence, but one of redemption. At age twenty-two, Mr. Moore pleaded guilty and was convicted of murdering a 77-year old man, whose home he intended to rob until things went horribly wrong. What began as the desperate attempt of a single father trying to find money to take care of his three-year old son, ultimately ended in Mr. Moore not robbing the man of his money, but robbing him of his life. Mr. Moore immediately confessed and fully cooperated with police. He then began seeking forgiveness from the victims’ family, who eventually became very outspoken about saving Mr. Moore’s life. Since his release, Mr. Moore has devoted his life to speaking out against the death penalty and sharing his personal experience within our criminal justice system.
This issue is very prevalent and timely, as seen with the current debate over Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis. Troy Davis is currently residing on Georgia’s death row for the murder of a police officer, where serious doubt has been raised about Davis’ guilt. Mr. Davis’ conviction was based solely on eyewitness testimony (no evidence linking him to the crime was ever found). Since his conviction, 7 of those 9 witnesses- some of whom blame pressure from the police- have recanted their original testimonies. My hope was that those who attended Mr. Moore’s amazing and powerful story would only be further outraged at the injustice that exists in Davis’ case. Mr. Moore plead guilty and was eventually commuted and released, while Troy Davis might be executed although his guilt is in serious question.
Along with Japan, the United States is the only fully developed country that still uses capital punishment. It also costs more money to execute someone than to keep them in prison. Is it not time to reevaluate this harsh, barbaric, and outdated method of punishment?
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”