Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Bali nine: Hundreds farewell Myuran Sukumaran at Sydney funeral

Ben Quilty during his eulogy. Photo: Adam Taylor
Ben Quilty during his eulogy. Photo: Adam Taylor
Family and friends – and those simply moved by his story of redemption – came together on Saturday to celebrate the “short but beautiful life” of Myuran Sukumaran, the drug smuggler who transformed his life and touched millions with his astonishing art and compassion.

There was high emotion, laughter and tears during the three-hour long commemoration. For many, the measure of the man was his extraordinary bravery as he prepared for death at the hands of a firing squad.

In a powerful remembrance, his brother Chinthu – who dedicated the past 10 years to freeing his sibling and was shattered by his death – recalled those last moments on Nusakambangan. They had 30 minutes left together and “I could see such sadness in his eyes, that hope was all but taken. Myu wanted to live so much”.

“I asked him if he was afraid and he said no. But I didn’t believe him so I placed my hand on his chest for a few minutes and I felt his heart beat. And then again on his wrist, to feel his pulse and it was beating slowly and I knew that he was not afraid.”

Unlike the other Australian who died alongside him, Andrew Chan, Sukumaran did not quickly embrace religion on death row. But family and Christian ministers testified to a late and deep conversion to Christianity in the days leading up to his death on the penal island of Nusakambangan in central Java.

Myuran Sukumaran's coffin enters the service. Photo: James Brickwood
Myuran Sukumaran's coffin enters the service. Photo: James Brickwood
“Nusakambangan island become a road to Damascus for Myu,” said his uncle Mani Sivasubramaniam.

​Pastor Christie Buckingham, who was with Sukumaran until his last moments, said they spent hours recalling psalms and hymns from his childhood, reading scriptures and debating theology.

Chinthu revealed that his brother had spent his last months and weeks frantically preparing for his art studio and classes to continue and thrive after he died.

Fellow Bali nine members Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman will take over the enterprise in Bali’s Kerobokan prison.

Sukumaran wanted his other legacy to be a renewed effort to abolish the death penalty.

As Sukumaran walked to his death, guards at Nusakambangan apologised, hugged him, and then saluted him, Chinthu said.

It was a great shame that those who ordered his death did not have the courage to meet the man they condemned - If they did, Chinthu said, they could not have killed him.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Allard, May 9, 2015

Ben Quilty pays tribute to Myuran Sukumaran in speech at Sydney funeral

Ben Quilty, Australian artist and mentor to Myuran addressing the congregation. Photo: James Brickwood
Ben Quilty, Australian artist and mentor to Myuran addressing the congregation.
Photo: James Brickwood
In a powerful speech oscillating between anger and hope, artist Ben Quilty has blasted the Australians "devoid of compassion" who riddled Myuran Sukumaran with threats and criticism in his final months.

At the Sydney funeral to farewell the reformed drug smuggler on Saturday, the Archibald Prize-winning painter revealed his close friend had received "angry and abusive" letters right up to the day of his execution on Nusakambangan penal island in Indonesia.

Mr Quilty, standing beside five of Sukumaran's haunting paintings, said it was hard to digest the posts and tweets on social media critical of the two men who worked to help others.

"Many Australians - I have to be honest - mostly men, completely devoid of any compassion. But if they had spent one hour with Myuran Sukumaran, I challenge any of them to continue their self-righteous and cruel tirade, for Myuran paved a way that contradicts the simplistic persona that they portray," he said.

He also hit back at media commentators who labelled him a "hypocrite" for supporting Sukumaran.

​In January, ​media personality Derryn Hinch said celebrities involved in the campaign to support the pair on death row were hypocritical for only opposing the death penalty when it was used against Australians.

"He said I should be working on all death penalty cases, and not just one. But Myuran was my friend and I wasn't going to let Myuran walk onto a green field in the dark and face a firing squad, while people like that radio announcer couldn't even name Myuran's name correctly," he said.

He said that the public should accept the reality that young men often made "terrible, self-indulgent, dangerous" mistakes, at times, in an "awkward, rudderless, coming-of-age ritual". But in accepting this reality, the community should strive to understand boys and men better, providing guidance, mentoring, and inspiration.

Self-portrait after our new arrivals, A Bad Sleep Last Night Myuran Sukumaran, April 25, 2015 Nusa Kambangan Island, RI
"Self-portrait after our new arrivals, A Bad Sleep
Last Night" by Myuran Sukumaran, April 25, 2015
Nusa Kambangan Island, RI
"Myuran became exactly the man I'm describing. He guided, protected and mentored the young men around him, as did Andrew," he said.

Mr Quilty also slammed the Australian government, saying: "I have profound questions about our government calling for the death penalty for citizens of other countries. It is not alright for us to call for the death penalty for anyone, anywhere, ever."

Mr Quilty shared how both men turned their lives around and transformed the prison community. Sukumaran's art classes were the first gatherings in the history of the prison where men and women could interact.

When Quilty gave $500 cash to Sukumaran for a painting, he was astonished that his friend gave it all away to the art students who needed it more than him.

At the end of the speech, Mr Quilty described Sukumaran's last artworks as the most potent and powerful, anti-death penalty images the world has seen in a long time.

"Those paintings were not only images of salvation. Knowing Myuran, they were images to steer the world from the revolting barbarism that has overwhelmed Indonesian politics, and back to compassion," he said.

Click here to read the full article (+video/photos)

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Esther Han, May 9, 2015

Related articles:
- Myuran Sukumaran’s mother writes powerful open letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, May 7, 2015
- Bali nine: Andrew Chan farewelled at Sydney funeral, May 8, 2015
- Indonesia: Two still at risk of imminent execution, May 3, 2015, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso and Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, who received a temporary stay of execution, remain at risk of execution in the coming weeks. Take action now!

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