Karla Faye Tucker Set Free, by Linda Strom, is not the type of book I would usually pick up. It’s actually not even available to purchase – copies are just distributed freely, and I received one from a student of mine, who received it from her church.
It is the story of a woman, Karla Faye Tucker, who was on death and spiritually set free by her deep and enduring faith in Jesus Christ, even when faced with her own execution. The author had a personal friendship with Tucker over the course of many years, as she visited her regularly as part of a prison ministry team.
Tucker was sentenced to death in 1984 for the brutal murders of two people. The book doesn’t delve too deeply into the murders, except to say that Tucker was high on drugs at the time and that it involved a pickaxe. It’s possible that the author assumed that many readers would already know the details of the murder, but I had not. Of course, I looked it up later to find out more.
I’m sure the author didn’t want to include many details, as that was not the focus of this book. However, she did give some background information on Tucker’s life, and the upbringing Tucker had, which led her down a path of depravity from a very young age.
After the murder and trial she was put on death row. During her time there she accepted the Lord as her savior and that was transforming for her. The rest of the book focused on her deep love of the Lord, her joyous spirit and her helpful and caring attitude toward her fellow inmates. She called death row “life row” and fully accepted the consequences of her actions.
The book was written with a sympathetic attitude toward Tucker and focused on how far she had come after receiving Jesus as her savior. The book’s intent was to show how there is hope in Jesus. Many people were affected by her faith – her fellow inmates; prison ministry volunteers, one of whom she married; the warden and other prison officials; and even some family members of the couple she killed. Although she was never able to successfully appeal her sentence or commute the sentence from death to life imprisonment, she maintained her strong and unwavering faith in Jesus and witnessed to others.
Although it was difficult to read about someone whose life went in such a tragic direction so young, it was interesting to see how much good she did in the short time she had as an incarcerated, yet spiritually free woman.
Keep Reading – I’ve just finished Steve Jobs’ biography, and can’t wait to post about that next Friday!