Clive Stafford Smith has played a pivotal role in Willie Manning’s cases, first as Willie’s post-conviction lawyer, and later as publicist for some of the injustices inflicted on him.
Last month Stafford Smith joined other death penalty experts in condemning capital punishment in the USA, which he describes as a “total farce”. He argues that executing people has been a method of control, built on racism. [Willie’s two unrelated cases, both deeply flawed, serve to illustrate this argument.]
He refers to death row inmates’ treatment as “torture” [with their years of inhumane incarceration, and the specter of execution always hanging over them]. He claims that
“[N]o-one with any sensibilities wants to be involved.”
He recalls his own “mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder” derived from watching one of his clients being put to death in a particularly gruesome way.
But Stafford Smith has hope for the future. He feels that the death penalty’s days are numbered, because the public are turning against it:
“Even the people who support the death penalty are deeply ambivalent; they know that the argument it achieves something positive is ridiculous, and increasingly so.”
It is good to know that, based on his extensive understanding of the death penalty, Stafford Smith expects it to be abolished within his lifetime; his optimism should encourage us. And we trust that when Willie hears about the words of his former lawyer and friend, they will give him strength. We are grateful that Clive Stafford Smith remains a Willie Manning supporter.