My thinking about the death penalty took a slightly different turn today when I read an article in the American Thinker entitled Crime Without Punishment by Lester Jackson. Jackson presents the practical side of eliminating the death penalty, and it is not pretty.
Out of thin air, a right has been officially and surreptitiously created exclusively for select previously convictedmurderers: the right to commit, cost-free, further violence, and even further murders. When judges, legislators, and governors make capital punishment impossible in willful defiance of great public support, they liberate those already serving life sentences to fearlessly perpetrate as many additional vicious crimes as they can because they face no greater penalty.This sounds ominous, but aren't these guys already in prison? How can they commit more murders? Jackson tells us in gory detail:
A recent vivid illustration occurred when a lone Oregon elected officeholder joined elected officeholders from other states (e.g., New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois, and potentially Connecticut) in defying the public. (Last July, the Supreme Court fell one vote short of saving a brutal murderer based on a never-enacted law proposed by a solitary legislator.) On November 22, Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a death penalty "moratorium" during his term in office, expressly barring Gary Haugen's scheduled December 6 execution for a barbarous slaughter while serving a life sentence. In 1981, Haugen raped Mary Archer and beat her to death with repeated blows from his fist, a hammer, and a baseball bat. In 2003, together with another inmate, Haugen murdered a third inmate, David Polin, by stabbing him 84 times and crushing his skull. After humbly seeking expert consultation with "mostly myself," Kitzhaber found all this insufficient to warrant execution.
In 1981, while serving multiple life sentences for multiple murders, Lemuel Smith beat, strangled, bit off the nipples of, and murdered Donna Payant, a 31-year-old prison guard and mother of three, finally throwing her body into the garbage to be compacted. (This was not the first time he sank his teeth into his murder victim's nipples.) A 4-3 majority of the New York State Court of Appeals used this case to foist their unpopular moral values upon an unwilling public by declaring unconstitutional the state's death penalty law. Despite legal window dressing which the minority found specious, Smith himself left no doubt that, at bottom, the bare majority valued his life, but not the lives of the guard or Smith's previous torture-murder victims, to say nothing of possible future ones.What is driving this seems to be yet another Leftist "do-gooder" idea that somehow we may be executing huge numbers of innocent people. Cases like the case of 57 year old Michael Morton who spent 25 years in prison, but was exonerated due to DNA evidence lend credibility to the argument. And one has to applaud the work of people such as the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence (NCCAI) who are looking into, and finding, people wrongly convicted of crimes and freeing them. At the same time, they should be going after overly zealous prosecutors who may have stepped over the line in their efforts to make a conviction. The defense should always be given more latitude than the prosecutor, and any exculpatory evidence should be turned over to the defense. Prosecutors should always be trying to find the truth, and not merely try to get convictions.
While the work of the NCCAI is important, what is the actual percentage of people convicted of a capital crime are actually innocent? Do our courts actually convict a large percentage of innocent people, while we know that they let many dangerous and violent people go free?
Frankly, I suspect it is part of the Leftists plan to create as much chaos and havoc in society as they can. Removing the death penalty, and at the same time advocating for a system that lets repeat offenders back out to commit more crimes undermines peoples confidence in the law. A panicked public will not always make the best decisions, allowing a politician to come riding to the rescue and offer to "fix" it for them.