Finally, a price paid

By Staff
Dec. 13, 2002
Jessie D. Williams was convicted and sentenced to death in 1983 in Jackson County for slashing the throat of Karon Ann Pierce, 18, then mutilating the body. For the past 19 years, Williams has been the guest of Mississippi taxpayers at the state penitentiary at Parchman. In fact, he's spent more time in prison than his victim had on this earth.
Jessie D. Williams, his appeals exhausted, his legal maneuvering finally at an end, paid for his crime Wednesday. He was put to death by lethal injection.
It is blatantly unfair for innocent young lives to be snuffed out by heinous criminal acts such as the one Williams perpetrated on Karon Ann Pierce. And yet the best society can do in the way of punishment is to kill the killer, maybe, after decades of imprisonment.
To be sure, Jessie D. Williams will not kill again.
And yet 66 inmates remain on death row, sentenced to the harshest of penalties by courts after guilty verdicts by juries from across Mississippi. They are mostly, but not overwhelmingly, black. One woman is among these inmates, whose ages range from 19 to 74 years. One inmate has been on death row for 27 years.
No appeals process, even given the severity of death penalty cases, should take so long. It is an insult to the families of the victims and to the taxpayers who support the penitentiary that so many years pass before death sentences are carried out.
When Mississippi lawmakers return to the Capitol in January, they ought to take a look at how the appeals process in death penalty cases can be streamlined so that justice comes more swiftly.

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