Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On the Death Penalty

The New Mexico legislature is considering reinstating the death penalty for cop killers, kid killers, and corrections officer’s killers.

I happen to personally feel like anyone who molests a child, kills a child, or even promotes or consumes child porn deserves to die.  That’s me, and that’s a result both of my own experiences, and my research.  Most child molesters do not believe they are doing anything wrong.  They’ve convinced themselves that the children enjoy it as much as they do and that our country has an arbitrary age of majority that is higher than in many other countries.  Thus, they are never going to reform, and why should you and I pay for them to live in more security and luxury than we do with opportunity for a free education and even actual freedom someday?  Just My Humble Opinion.

But there is a problem with that, and with the death penalty in general.  And that is that in this society, in this country, at this time, it is applied disproportionately to poor, non-white, and often mentally disadvantaged people.  No one who seriously reads the news or follows any sort of crime related media could avoid the conclusion that white males get away with things that black males would be executed for.  And the richer you are – the lighter your penalty will be, if you are found guilty at all.  It is also true that the media is often responsible for whipping the public into a frenzy over a crime that has any sort of emotional hook (and cop killers and kid killers certainly qualify) forcing a judge and jury towards the most severe penalty possible. 

It is better than a lot of judicial systems in the world, but our judicial system is not infallible.  There are innocent people sitting on death row right now, and over the years many have been exonerated and released after spending years with the Grim Reaper hanging over their shoulder.  One innocent person put to death by the State is too many. 

I would really like to say that if there were indisputable facts in evidence, such as DNA or a body cam video of the accused shooting the officer, then the death penalty should be considered.  But there is a true slippery slope.  What I consider indisputable might be disputable.  Especially if you had a good lawyer.  And a bad, lazy, or simply overwhelmed public defender might not have the access to the expert witnesses or even the time to fight that evidence.  Again – the death penalty is going to fall disproportionately on the poor, the underprivileged, and those who for some reason hit the self-righteous trigger on some people. 

Hey, we all have triggers.  Ask me about child molesters some time.  Or try to tell me all mothers love their children, only some of the poor mommies have problems. (Yes, starting with psychopathy and running straight towards the inability to love anyone but herself)

A dear friend of mine was murdered many years ago.  At the end of the trail, a news reporter asked her mother if she felt the killer should have gotten the death penalty (he did not).  That mother was a very special woman.  She told them he was somebody’s son, and brother, and she would not want to be responsible for asking for his death in spite of what he had done to her family.  In private, she made a shorter statement to me – she didn’t want the karma.

Me neither.

And if the State executes someone – doesn’t that mean we all get the karma?

We are only human.  We are not the one to make a life or death judgment on anyone.  Isn’t that the point when we penalize a person for killing another?  That we do not have the right to make that decision for another person?

Yes, some killings are more heinous than others.  It is pretty hard to come up with a situation in which killing a cop, or a kid, is in any way justified.  (At the risk of setting off a screaming match – I’ve met a few cops that I think could be the sort of person you might have to kill in self-defense – but that’s another subject).  But speaking for me personally at least, a lifetime spent in solitary with only an hour outdoors each day and no hope of a return to freedom would be worse than death.  So give that a minutes thought.  Being in jail is not fun – not for most people. 

I admit, a few days ago on one of my blogs I said I take survey and study results with a grain of salt.  But studies have shown that the death penalty is not a deterrent.  I can see that.  If I am holding a gun on a cop, I am probably not doing any deep thinking about what sort of penalty I will be facing if I kill him.  I’m probably hoping I can shoot faster than he can.  When it comes to kid killers, well let’s admit it.  Most kid killers are child molesters who have been caught and served time, and don’t want to do that again.  So if they kill the kid, who’s to testify against them?  So while it is more premeditated than the other scenario, the deterrent – jail time – actually makes the more severe crime more attractive.  Yeah, suck on that for a moment.  So I do believe that the death penalty has no value as a deterrent for the crimes indicated. 

Corrections officers, although I see why they are lumped in here, are a bit of a different situation.  At least, I would think they would only be killed in certain specific situations, such as in the process of an escape attempt – and yes, maybe even in self-defense.  Much as we hate to admit it, cops and corrections officers are human beings and thus able to make mistakes and bad decisions. But because of the likelihood of a surrounding situation that results in additional charges, I think having them included in the possible death penalty will only result in prisoners who have half a dozen death penalties or several life sentences to serve.

There was a time in my life when I supported the death sentence.  Then I learned more about it, and thought more about it, and at this point I cannot support the death sentence for any crime. It serves no positive purpose, and there is too great a possibility that an innocent could be executed. 

Just My Own Humble Opinion.  What do you think?


Summer Foovay

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