By Rev. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
September 11, 2020
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in North Carolina. Yet despite the 140 offenders currently on death row, the state has not executed anyone since 2006. There have been challenges to the lethal injection protocol. Then there were the complications precipitated by the Racial Justice Act. And although the RJA was repealed in 2013, a recent State Supreme Court decision has the potential for reviving more than 100 capital cases. The resulting de facto moratorium on the state’s exercise of the death penalty is justice denied for victims’ families.
In recent years public opinion has changed about the death penalty. When Gallup first started polling on the question in 1985, most Americans said they favored it. In 2019, however, the global analytics firm reported 60 percent of Americans now say imprisonment without the possibility of parole is a better approach to punishing someone guilty of a capital crime.
But a story published this week in The Wilson Times shows why people who willfully take another person’s life should get the death penalty and not a long-term or life sentence in prison.
Gina Bradley Childress is the daughter of the late John Roger Bradley of Wilson. Bradley was brutally gunned down in his driveway as he left for work one day. His assailants robbed him of about $8,000 in cash.
Three men, Alan Lucas, Clemmons and Bobby Batts Jr. followed Bradley for three days to learn from whence he would go and come and where he banked. It was a cold-blooded, calculated, premeditated murder.
Batts turned state’s evidence and has mostly disappeared from the public record. Clemmons received a 60-year sentence for the homicide. Lucas, who got a plea deal and received an 86-year prison sentence, is now being housed in the Rutherford Correction Center in Spindale and is expected to be paroled soon.
Childress has had to fight against both Clemmons’ and Lucas’ parole for several years. She now says she is deeply concerned that the battle to keep Lucas behind bars is about to be lost.
Childress told The Wilson Times that she is victimized over and again by having to contest Lucas’ parole repeatedly. She told the newspaper, “I dread going every time, but it has to be done. It’s not fair. They took my father from me, and I have to relive it every year. The whole system re-victimizes families.” She adds that Lucas could be paroled under a program that gives him a free education.
Lucas is a participant in the NC Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission’s Mutual Agreement Parole Program. The Commission can grant parole based in part on academic and vocational courses taken by inmates meant to help successfully reintegrate them back into the community.
But Childress rightly protests that her tax dollars pay for these programs. “We all work and struggle for what he’s getting for free. A lot of kids have college debt, but he gets a free education,” said Childress.
Childress further told The Wilson Times:
“My dad never got to see his grandchildren. I was pregnant when he was killed. He never got to see my career. They not only took my father away; they took a son, grandfather, husband away. My mother and father were married for 28 years. They held hands every night for 28 years.
“I wish I could make the parole commission understand. It’s not okay for a victim’s family to walk around knowing you could run into that killer right around the corner or in line at the grocery store.”
There’s also the concern of whether they would kill again, says Childress. She doesn’t believe any family member should ever have to endure what she has.
Several years ago, after having made a study of crime and punishment, Gordon Tullock, who was at that time a part of Virginia Tech, concluded: “Eighty percent of the people who seriously think about crime think of punishment as a deterrent – except for the sociologists, and they wrote all the books.”
For too long, we’ve been listening to the sociologists and not God’s Word, and we’ve erroneously substituted our judgment in place of God’s. Capital punishment is not a matter of opinion, nor is it merely a Court’s decree. The Scriptures are not ambivalent about the issue. God established the death penalty and ordered it for those who commit willful murder.
The Bible says in the Old Testament, “Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man” (Gen. 9:6). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul made it clear that he recognized the continuing validity of the death penalty, writing: “For if I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die” (Acts 25:10-12). God has never repealed the death penalty. It is to be exercised in every dispensation.
Moreover, the Bible teaches that murder pollutes the land, and the only way to cleanse the land is capital punishment (Num. 35:33).
If our society honored God and justice were performed, Alan Lucas and his cohorts would have received a death sentence. Even a sentence of life without parole wouldn’t have been justice. Lucas still has a life, with an opportunity at a free education, something many hard-working and law-abiding citizens never have. He and his family can still visit with each other, while Childress and her family can never see their loved one in this life again.
What justice is there in Childress being victimized year after year, having to relive her father’s death, having to fight the prospect of Lucas’ release from prison by the government which is supposed to be protecting her and the rest of us?
Yes, Christians believe in redemption. Nevertheless, it is also true that people sentenced to death have a privilege that most of us will never get – the privilege of knowing when their end is going to happen. One might rightly argue they have a better opportunity to make things right with God than most. So the chance at forgiveness and redemption is not denied them.
What is too-often wrongly denied today is a restoration of a disturbed equilibrium in the universe, a balancing of the scales. Capital punishment is not about personal revenge, but retribution for snuffing out the divinely given life of another person and justice for the victims’ families. This is a proper, legitimate and moral concept!
Let’s be abundantly clear! There is a sense in which our culture shares in the guilt of Lucas’ heinous act, because he has not already been put to death. And, if he is paroled, our guilt is significantly compounded.
Persons living in the Wilson Community, take action:
For people who live in the Wilson Community, Childress has posted an online petition, calling on officials to deny Lucas’ parole. It reads, in part:
“Gina has ONE MORE CHANCE to speak out in defense of her father! So she needs as many people as possible to SIGN THIS PETITION to the NC Parole Commission to make it clear the Wilson, NC, community DOES NOT BELIEVE this criminal should be released! He helped commit cold-blooded murder and would be a threat to the entire Wilson community if released!”
To access the petition and sign it, go here: