Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Death Penalty.

Those of you have been reading this blog may recall the Marcus in Arabia: The Execution blog.

I feel with the high profile murders in Atlanta and in Brookfield we have a good setting to discuss the death penalty in our society.

To sum up my beliefs I say we need a DP in Wisconsin. That said it is important to discuss the reasons we need this and how it should be implemented.

Why do we need a death penalty? Justice demands it. Many people say the death penalty is a sign of society and its devaluation of life. I say rubbish, opposition to the death penalty is devaluation of the vicitm's life. I do believe in certain circumstances the DP does deter. I believe certain crimes scream for the DP's application.

Deterrence is often dismissed as a proper role of DP because the critics say it does not deter. This has been studied and in certain circumstances it is hard to conclude that the DP does NOT deter. The DP deters those in the commission of other crimes (rape, robbery, whatever) from murdering their witnesses. I can not supply the numbers (IIRC I have read about this in a National Review Online article) but throughout the years when there was a fairly swift and certain DP the victims of non-murderous crimes were much more likely to live. When the DP was struck down and in its current uncertain state, the perpetrator of a crime is much more likely to leave NO witnesses.

Critics may say what about crimes of passion? I agree with them and would not support the murderer who killed in a crime of passion situation. These types of criminals are unlikely to kill again. Theodore Dalyrymple (IIRC again The National Review discussed this at length and it makes sense. Theodore Dalyrymple (a pseudonym) is a doctor who works in a UK prison. He describes picking up a hitcher who was a recently released murderer. The man it turns out was a passion killer and Theodore reported there was nothing to suggest the man would commit another crime in his life and deserve that consideration in sentencing. That is no DP.

OTOH, career criminals should be death with differently. Mr. Dalyrymple also picked up a guy who was a revolving door type. In and out of the prisons with each offense being more server than the previous. The crook's latest was armed robbery and Theodore stated he was much more afraid of the armed robber than the murderer. His position (and IMO a sensible one) is a person who chooses crime as a career, with a constantly escalating level of severity that finally ends in a murder should be subject to the DP.

I also believe (and this may or may not be covered by my previous paragraph) serial murderers, paid killers should be subject to the DP as well.

So essentially I have four classes of criminal that should be subject to the DP.

  1. Serial Murderers.

  2. Hired Killers.

  3. Chronic criminals that murder.

  4. Those that murder while committing another crime.

They are all murderers that give us no reason to believe they will not murder again. Remember, murder happens in the confines of prison too. Should the man serving time for car theft be exposed to those who have no reservations to murder? I do not believe they should.

Now, some will object that this still does not prevent the execution of the innocent. I leave that to the DAs. It should be a prime consideration to the DA on whether to pursue the DP the solidity of their case. For example Brian Nichols (the man who killed three in a courthouse shooting in Atlanta) should be facing the long needle (aka the death penalty). Terry Ratzmann (the shooter in the Brookfield WI Church Massacre) thankfully mooted it but had he survived he should be facing the long needle. Is there doubt about the guilt of either one? No there is not so this adds to the case for their execution. Both of these killers demonstrated a capacity to kill without remorse.