"I have prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ not to lay charge of my death to any man. I commend my spirit into your hands, Lord Jesus Christ."
Shortly after speaking those words, Philip Workman's head drifted to the left, and he breathed his last visible breaths.
For a moment, we'll pretend that two of the most prominent ballistics experts in this nation didn't reach the conclusion that the fatal shot didn't come from Workman's gun. We'll pretend that the eyewitness they built their original case around was a reliable, upstanding witness rather than a convicted perjuror. We'll pretend that it was entirely fair that the judge who heard the original case was the one to preside over the appeal. We'll pretend there was nothing fishy about interring a murder victim without so much as an x-ray of the body and the state's inability to remain consistent on whether or not an x-ray existed at all.
In other words, we're casting aside the mountain of reasonable doubt in this case. We'll pretend, only for a moment, that he did it, and the state did a bang-up job of proving it. I'll even go a step further and pretend that no one in Lt. Oliver's family joined in the requests for clemency.
What did we accomplish with that needle?
Yes, the State of Tennessee sent a clear, unambiguous statement. And that statement is "Killing is wrong. And to prove that, we're going to kill you."
For even if we pretend that there was no reasonable doubt in the case, we cannot pretend that killing Philip Workman acheived any aim that imprisoning him for life did not. Is society any safer now that he no longer breathes than it was yesterday when he did? Is there someone out there contemplating murder that is going to be stopped by thinking "Workman got the needle--- Better not chance it"?
Criminologists are nearly unanimous in agreeing that the death penalty is absolutely worthless as a deterrent for crime. In this world where 50.1% is considered a "mandate", only 12% of criminologists think the death penalty has any deterrent value whatsoever.
Killing Philip Workman, even if we defy common sense by pretending there was no reasonable doubt, acheived absolutely nothing that keeping him in jail did not.