Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Perfect Murder

I had a conversation with our Pastor, in which he mentioned that he was personally against the death penalty.  He pointed out that the death penalty did not serve as a deterrent, therefore it should be dropped. I admit that I had not given a whole lot of thought to it, but I felt it should be available as a prosecutorial option, rarely used to be sure, but an option.  If we acknowledge that man has free will; that man is in fact a moral agent, then we have to allow the death penalty for the taking of a life.  The criminal who decides to kill another had a choice.  He was not forced to kill, a gun was not held to his head. And clearly, the law does not sanction killing other people. He could have avoided committing the crime.  I am aware of the studies that claim to show that the death penalty is not a deterrent to committing murder.  But if the same methods were used for other crimes, I doubt they would show that the penalty for robbery deters robberies either.  Thus we would have no penalties for any crime.  I don't know about you, gentle reader, but I am not ready to face the Hobbesian world that would result.

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.
Or this:
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.    


  1. There are a couple of reasons that people on the Left are much more supportive of criminals than of honest citizens. Some like to believe that they aren't criminals, just "victims of society." Others are cynically using the criminals to scare the public so that they can extract ever more of our rights.

    There are principled reasons to oppose the death penalty, but you won't find them on the Left.

  2. Sean,

    The first group of course is the sort that inevitably get "mugged by reality" and find that they are nearly as tolerant when it happens to them. I would not wish crime on anybody, but it is interesting to see the change when you know someone like that.

    The second group was the group I was referring to at the end.

    Thanks for commenting, and see you at the gun show, if not sooner,


  3. There are spiritual laws, natural laws, and man-made laws. God will forgive a murderer, if said person is truly repentant & penitent, but there are legal consequences to the murderer's actions.

    I believe in the death penalty as a tool of man's law, for the reasons you've set forth here. Well said.