On October 26, 2004, Dominique Green, thirty, was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas. Arrested at the age of eighteen in the fatal shooting of a man during a robbery outside a Houston convenience store, Green may have taken part in the robbery but always insisted that he did not pull the trigger. The jury, which had no African Americans on it, sentenced him to death. Despite obvious errors in the legal procedures and the protests of the victim's family, he spent the last twelve years of his life on Death Row.
When Cahill found himself in Texas in December 2003, he visited Dominique at the request of Judge Sheila Murphy, who was working on the appeal of the case. In Dominique, he encountered a level of goodness, peace, and enlightenment that few human beings ever attain. Cahill joined the fierce fight for Dominique's life, even enlisting Dominique's hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to make an historic visit to Dominique and to plead publicly for mercy. Cahill was so profoundly moved by Dominique's extraordinary life that he was compelled to tell the tragic story of his unjust death at the hands of the state.
A Saint on Death Row will introduce you to a young man whose history, innate goodness, and final days you will never forget. It also shines a necessary light on America's racist and deeply flawed legal system. A Saint on Death Row is an absorbing, sobering, and deeply spiritual story that illuminates the moral imperatives too often ignored in the headlong quest for justice.
"His face has the dignity of a Benin bronze.... His countenance is suffused with an aura... [of] goodness." This is Cahill's opening description of Dominique Green, whose life and death the bestselling author (How the Irish Saved Civilization) recounts in a distinctly hagiographic tone. Green was a young African-American executed for murder in Texas in 2004, who Cahill and many others believe was innocent and convicted in a sham trial. Cahill's "saint" Dominique suffered (among other travails, he was abused by a schizophrenic mother), sinned (he turned to drug dealing, but only, he said, to support his younger brothers) and redeemed himself in prison by educating himself and aiding his Death Row comrades, whose quoted testimony to Dominique's qualities is more convincing than Cahill's own praises. But Cahill makes Green more than saintly, a Christ-like figure ("like the peaceful Jesus of the gospels, Dominique was on the verge of... transfiguration"). Given the spiritual and literary license Cahill takes, one must read this less as a reasoned argument than an impassioned, very personal plea against racism, poverty and the death penalty. (Mar. 10)
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March 08, 2009
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