First, let me say that I do plan on actually blogging about knitting later today. Since this is a knitting blog, it might be nice to actually get around to that. But, I've got a real wild hair this morning after reading the paper (again, reasons I should not come into contact with the outside world).
I do not believe in the death penalty. And I have reasons to back this up.
First, the death penalty is not a deterrent. No one in the heat of the moment of beating their lover to death, smothering a child, or shooting someone in the act of a robbery are thinking, "Man, I could get the needle for this!" In order for it to be a deterrent, we'd have to kill a lot more people, a lot more publicly.
Second, I'm not that religious of a person, more spiritual, but I don't like the idea of passing the ultimate judgment on someone. This is where the Dukakis-if-your-wife-were-raped argument comes in. Do I think that I could forgive some bastard who killed my loved one? I'd like to think so, but who really knows until you are in the situation? Killing them doesn't bring your loved one back and I really can't see how it would even give you peace.
Third, it's expensive. Really, really expensive. Occasionally when I have this discussion with others, they lament that it's so expensive to keep these fools locked up for life. Well, guess what? It's not. We spend millions per each death penalty case. To keep them alive and in prison only costs in the hundreds of thousands per case (depending on length of stay, age at the time of incarceration, etc.) And for me, I'd much rather have the murderer of my loved one playing who's got the soap with Bubba for the rest of his natural life.
And lastly, have you seen how many innocent people have been coming off of death row and out of prison? To my mind, one innocent man killed by the state is one too many. (I know there are women on death row, but the number is so statistically small that I feel saying man/men is perfectly acceptable).
All legitimate arguments if you ask me.
But, then I pick up the Sunday Hartford Courant. And there's this story about a man who smothered his baby back in 1986. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years (I don't know the law on this, but this guy didn't get life because . . .?) and got out after serving 16 of those years, presumably for good behavior. A man, who only showed remorse during his confession, not during the trial. He gets out, moves back to Charlotte, NC where he was originally from and guess what? He's done it again. Murdered yet another child. You could tell from the article how physically ill the original detective from Hartford felt when he heard the guy's name in connection with the new case.
Why aren't we more outraged by the murder of children? Why aren't we more outraged by the molestation of children? We have that Pastor in Hartford who not only molested but fathered a child with an 11/12 year old girl (proved by DNA testing that the child is his) and 40 of his parishioners show up at the courthouse to support him? Is it me? Have we totally lost our minds? Are we just so desensitized to this behavior that we don't condone, but cannot do more than tut tut and move on to the next horror of the day?
I keep thinking that if the courts had given this fool that murdered yet another child the death penalty in the first place, the second child would be alive today. He wouldn't necessarily have been fried by this point, but he would have been behind bars where he so obviously belongs. I think in this case, with hindsight, I would have given this guy the death penalty. My DH always says, he'll line up any day to push the plunger or flip the switch on any of these guys. I get the motivation, I get the feeling of wanting to make them pay.
Especially in the case of molestation. These pedophiles do not get rehabilitated. For a while, everyone was on the castration bandwagon. Guess what? That doesn't work either. I receive all of these emails where you can look up the registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. I think that's just dandy. No one wants "these people" living anywhere near them. But, you know what? "Those people" don't scare me half as much as all of the unregistered sex offenders. These are the guys who keep me awake at night. Because they are everywhere, and regardless of our desire to believe that they aren't, they are and continue to be. I think about it everytime I take me kids to a public park, or a theme park, anywhere where there are likely to be a high volume of kids. These places are like candy stores to them. Statistically speaking, kids are much more likely to be molested by someone they know, but that doesn't mean you bury your head in the sand about the random people either.
I used to believe in the death penalty. I grew up in a family of Democrats that believed in the death penalty. An oxymoron of sorts, but there it is. But, when I went to college I was taking a criminal justice minor and it changed my mind. The one argument I forgot to mention is that regardless of needle, chair or chamber, there is an inhumanity to the killing of another human being, the taking of another's life. And I would like to think, that on my best day, I am better than the scum that takes another life. I am stronger of mind and of will than someone who can smother a child or beat a lover to death. And if that's a judgment, then that's the one I am most comfortable passing.