The Supreme Court was OK with Domineque Ray’s execution.
The Supreme Court was OK with Domineque Ray’s execution.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Domineque Ray was born in a country that is proud of its stated principles, which supposedly include justice for all.

For Ray, justice in America meant enduring sexual and other forms of physical abuse throughout his childhood, so much so that he was ashamed to even admit it to save his own life.


Propublica summed it up this way:

In their filings, Ray’s lawyers have laid out the details of what they say was a horrifying upbringing for a boy with an 80 IQ. Ray, 17 at the time of the first murders, had been beaten as he went from household to household from the age of 3 on — bouncing between Selma, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Virginia and South Carolina. After being left in an abandoned building in Chicago, he’d been taken in by state child welfare officials. He was then sent off to suffer more, sexually abused by his stepmother’s family as a toddler and encouraged by his mother to have sex with her friends when he was a teenager. He never made it past eighth grade. He’s since been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, characterized by severe social anxiety, paranoia and unusual beliefs.

For Ray, justice in America meant enduring murder trials with inadequate legal representation in a system that disproportionately punishes black men and women at every level, trials that left legitimate questions about his guilt.

For Ray, justice in America meant that system ignored his upbringing and his low IQ even as it used a contested previous conviction against him to argue that he should be put down like a rapid dog.


For Ray, justice in America meant not even being allowed to have an imam at his side as the state unnecessarily and in a premeditated manner put him to death—in other contexts, that’s first-degree murder, but when the state does it, it’s legal and deemed justified—even though Christian prisoners are allowed to have a Christian chaplain by their side in the death chamber.

“Due to the nature of his crime, the decision of a jury to condemn him to death and because our legal system has worked as designed, Mr. Ray’s sentence was carried out,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.


Yes. Our legal system worked as designed. That’s the problem.

Bailey is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and author of the book, "My Brother Moochie: Reclaiming Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty and Racism in the American South." He's a husband and father.

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