Death Penalty Debate Renewed

by Diane Dimond on March 14, 2011

Time to Re-Think?

I’m against the death penalty.

Until I’m not.

Mention a criminal who has sexually abused or murdered a child and I waver. Show me a terrorist who wants to kill Americans because we don’t share his religion and I vacillate. Catch a stone cold cop killer and I think if we don’t punish the murderer to the fullest we allow the very fabric of our nation’s security to unravel.

Yet, with all that said, there seems to be a built in contradiction to killing a killer, don’t you think?

The Governor of Illinois took a bold step this week when he signed a bill that abolishes the death penalty in his state. Governor Pat Quinn said he took the step because in the past the system in Illinois found at least 20 men guilty of capital offenses and condemned them to death only to have evidence crop up later that exonerated them.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn

“If the system cannot be guaranteed 100 percent error free, then we cannot have the system,” Said Quinn. “It just is not right.”

Illinois is a perfect microcosm of our decade’s long national debate and flip-flop on the issue. We had capital punishment, then we banned it and in 1976 the U.S. Supreme court reinstated a state’s right to apply the death penalty.

In the 1990’s, after Illinois figured out it had at least 13 innocent people on death row (the figure rose to 20 later) former Governor George Ryan made news worldwide when he issued a suspension of all executions. Right before he left office in 2003 Ryan, literally, cleared out death row and commuted the sentences of 167 convicts leaving them to serve life in prison with no parole.

In making his pronouncement Governor Quinn commuted the sentences of 15 more condemned convicts and now they will serve life with no hope of ever being paroled.

Families Demand Justice Outside Prison

I know many of the loved ones seeking to avenge the innocent dead will not be pleased but, you know, in the scheme of things a life sentence is pretty horrible to contemplate. Instead of being released from this earth via a lethal injection these prisoners will be forced to think about the terrible acts that put them there every single day. They will grow old and infirm behind bars within a foul society. Instead of dreaming about someday being free they know they will have to spend every single minute of every single day locked up like an animal. There is no escape. That daily suffering seems like vengeance enough.

Interestingly, many victim’s families are against the death penalty believing it serves no purpose in bringing back their loved one.

Illinois now joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia in doing away with the death penalty. Although, as if to underscore how frequently the winds change on the issue, New Mexico’s newly elected Governor, Susana Martinez, wants to bring it back to the Land of Enchantment.

It is question from biblical times – what to do with those who take the lives of others? The book of Deuteronomy waves off pity and speaks of an “eye for an eye.” But as spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi put it, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

An Issue Worth Re-Visiting

So, after Governor Quinn’s recent stand on the issue maybe this is a good time for all of us to re-think what we believe about capital punishment. Should the United States be in the business of killing killers? Is it the best way to keep the rest of us safe? And for those who focus on the cost of prisons a question: is it fair to focus on money when we’re talking about life and death?

Ask yourself honestly, could you perform an execution?

Maybe we could mitigate the number of executions by limiting them to those who have committed the worst crimes. But who decides that the killer of a child or police officer deserves death while the murderer of an elderly person gets life in prison?

As you ponder the issue realize: Since 1976 states have executed about 1,240 convicts. There are currently at least 3,254 more waiting for their lethal injection or whatever other mode of death they chose as some states allow the inmate to pick his destiny – electrocution, lethal gas, shooting or hanging. Seems odd to think in America we still carry out firing squads but Utah staged one as recently as June 2010. Delaware had a hanging in 1996.

This is Where They Die

I’ve stood inside the death chamber of a prison and had the door close behind me. Everything in the room was white except for the 2 thick brown leather straps at the foot of the death bed which buckle in the feet of the condemned and those in the middle that hold down the hands and chest. White, the color of innocence and purity.

There seems to be nothing innocent or pure about taking the life of another human being. Not even an evil one.

But, I’ve interviewed enough victims’ family members to know their need for retribution is sincere, comes from deep within and oftentimes can’t be quenched until the killer is killed. I understand.









Diane March 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

ABQ Journal reader Rev. Randy Pence writes:

“I totally agree with what you said about the death penalty today. Without resorting to bumper sticker banalities, I will say that I have opposed and marched against the death penalty from Albuquerque to
There is one small critique that I have with your editorial, though. Most people don’t know that the Biblical “eye for an eye,” or lex talionis, was actually a very just law for the period in which it was conceived. Previous to this, people who were accused of a crime could be punished to a far greater extent than the crime warranted. For example, if I murdered your sister, not only could my life be taken, but the lives of my immediate family as well as retributive justice. The eye for an eye simply stated that the punishment could not exceed the severity of the crime, a very liberal law at the time.”

Diane March 14, 2011 at 8:49 am

ABQ Journal Reader Rod Kontny writes:

“Agree with most of your articles including the recent one on the death penalty. I attach my short essay on the subject and have presented it to numerous politicians, including our new governor. I think she sides with the death penalty because she has prosecuted some terrible criminals and, as a Republican, she is EXPECTED to support the death penalty. She has bigger fish to fry. I am a Republican and voted for her, but she has not thought through this issue objectively.

Would I feel differently if someone killed my wife or children. I hope not, but it is possible.”

(essay follows in next comment block)

Diane March 14, 2011 at 8:51 am

Essay to NM lawmakers from Rod Kontny, Colonel, USAF (ret)

There are many arguments on both sides of this issue and I am compelled to state mine.
1. Reasonable people may disagree here, but I think that a life sentence without the possibility of parole is a much tougher penalty than death. For a person to ponder that he/she will spend the entire rest of his/her life in prison must be a devastating thought. Knowing that you will die in prison in 20, 40 or 60 years and never again see a free sunset or sunrise must be the height of depression. McVeigh wanted to die because he could imagine what it would be like to be incarcerated for 60 years. It appears Moussaoui wants the death penalty for the same reason and also so he can get to his promised land and become a martyr at the same time.
2. On moral grounds, I do not think God intended to allow us to condemn another person to death. I think this is what He had in mind when he gave us the Sixth Commandment. In this regard, I think there is some similarity between abortion and the death penalty. I know there is an argument here about police/military action or killing in self-defense, but I do believe these are in a different category.
3. There is overwhelming evidence that the State has placed individuals on death row that were innocent and there is virtual certainty that it will happen again, particularly with advanced DNA technology.
4. The United States is one of the very few countries that employs the death penalty. Perhaps we should at least listen to the arguments these other countries have that led them to abandon the death penalty.
5. There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters other criminals from committing horrific crimes. It appears to me, then, that the death penalty is simply a State supported act of revenge.
6. Strictly from a financial point of view, it is much cheaper to incarcerate an individual for life rather than have the State provide for both the defense (in most cases) and the prosecution (in all cases) to comply with all the appellate laws concerning the death penalty. Often this takes decades.
7. The quality of public legal defense is most often very poor for capital crimes, thus often making convictions a function of available funds, rather than of innocence or guilt.
8. Mental illness and retardation are sometimes a factor in capital crimes, but these issues are often slighted in death penalty convictions “

Diane March 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

ABQ Journal Reader Fr. Jack Fairweather writes:

“Just a “Bueno!” and “Gracias!” for your column; “States’ Actions Revive Death Penalty Debate” in the March 12,2011 Albuquerque Journal. As a very young reporter in the Rocky Mt. West I witnessed an execution…by electric chair…..and later stood inside the death chamber. This was in the 1960s.
Inside that room wanted to scream and run away. Have struggled with my feelings re. state killings ever since. Your column is one of the most compassionate treatments of this very human wrestling with issues of good vs.
evil…vengeance vs. forgiveness…I’ve ever encountered. Thank you.
Peace and Blessings”

Diane March 14, 2011 at 8:57 am

ABQ Journal Reader and Blogger Roger Due writes:

Thanks for your article in the Saturday Albuquerque Journal. Take a look at what I wrote here a few days ago.

— Roger Due”

NOTE TO READERS: This blog was too long to reproduce here but I encourage everyone who’s interested in this topic to hit this link! ~ DD

Diane March 14, 2011 at 9:05 am

Creators Syndicate Reader Hanna Yoo writes:

“Thank you for your article. Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that there are family members of murder victims (like myself – I lost my father to murder) who are opposed to the death penalty. I’m a board member of Murder Victims’ Family Members for Reconciliation (MVFR) and we consist of hundreds of family members who all oppose the death penalty based on varying reasons. Some have been through the process and realize it doesn’t accomplish what they were hoping it would; some want greater punishment in the form of life imprisonment; some think of the murderer’s family; some forgive, etc.

Thanks again. Hanna Yoo.”

J.D. & Tax Certificate, Loyola U. School of Law, 2009
B.A., Northwestern University, 2004

Diane March 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

ABQ Journal Reader Joel S. Davis writes: (in edited form)

“I wonder if you appreciate the infinite hypocrisy of death penalty opponents, perhaps including you.

1. “Yet, with all that said, there seems to be a built-in contradiction to killing a killer, don’t you think?” – Answer, no. One is murder, for one’s personal interest– the thrill of power, to get money, to eliminate witnesses, etc. The other is execution, serving the state’s interest in justice and safety. If you truly can’t comprehend the difference, then you’re so morally vacuous that there’s no point in even reading the rest of this letter. I’m gambling my effort to write it that you’re not.

2. You quote Illinois Governor Pat Quinn: “If the system cannot be guaranteed 100 percent error free, then we cannot have the system…. It just is not right.” – More utter hypocrisy. First, no institution of human beings is “100% error free.” If one demands divine perfection, then it’s just as fair argue for keeping the death penalty until we are 100%– repeat 100%– certain that no murderer we thereby keep around will ever, ever kill anyone again. Of course, that’s not the case. …
As a physicist, I am utterly aware that there is only one way to guarantee that someone is taken out of society forever, and that is to remove their living presence from the physical universe. No other way. Period. End of story.

The bottom line is that almost any government program accomplishing a social good– be it building a tunnel, running a space program, or removing murderers from society– will sometimes result in innocent deaths. The question is whether the risk is sufficiently low, noting that anyone demanding zero risk is either ignorant of physical reality or hypocritically using that argument as a mask for another axe they have to grind– and whether the benefit is worth the cost.

3. You argue, “I know the loved ones seeking to avenge the innocent dead will not be pleased but, you know, in the scheme of things a life sentence is pretty horrible to contemplate. Instead of being released from this earth via a lethal injection, these prisoners will be forced to think about the terrible acts that put them there every single day. They will grow old and infirm behind bars within a foul society.” – This is either ignorance or hyocrisy as well. I might believe it if we were regaled with wailing and lamentations from those on death row who no longer face execution, but, in fact, the few reports I’ve seen indicate more relief and even celebration. Of course, the rare inmate will commit suicide rather than face the long incarceration, but they are rare… most are more than happy not to face execution and people who pretend otherwise are either ignorant or liars.

Let me offer a counterpoint. Even in prison, as long as they live, murderers are free to remember with perverse joy the life and death power they personally held over another human being. They are free to enjoy continued gratification over the terror and death they were got to inflict. They are free to rebuild their own lives– a possibility they themselves denied to their victims. They also continue to enjoy the notoriety and social standing that goes, in prison populations, with committing such a high crime. …

4. It is question from biblical times — what to do with those who take the lives of others? The book of Deuteronomy waves off pity and speaks of an “eye for an eye.” But as spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi put it, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” … Should the United States be in the business of killing killers? – By phrasing it this way, somehow equating murder by individuals with execution by the state, you only make the case for your own moral vacuum. Show me the “murderer” who “kills”: a) only after his or her victim has been legally proven to have murdered someone else; b) in violation of a previously established law enacted through the representative process; c) only after his or her victim has been tried in a public trial with due process of law, and convicted by a jury of peers; d) only after his or her victim has had several rounds of appeals over a period of years to assure that due process was complied with; and, finally, only with methods determined (and subjected to court challenge) as being sufficiently humane. Show me the murder that complies with all that, and treat equating it to judicial execution as something other than evil itself. …

5. “Ask yourself honestly, could you perform an execution?” – My answer: Yes, for one proven guilty of a sufficiently heinous crime and sentenced to death by our judicial system. Sans peur et sans reproche.

6. “There seems to be nothing innocent or pure about taking the life of another human being. Not even an evil one.” – Obviously, I not only disagree, I would apply the argument in just the opposite way. There is nothing innocent or pure about keeping a murderer around, thwarting justice and endangering everyone else for decades to come. It is, in fact, cowardice or simple evil.

Incidentally, if you’ve gotten this far, I should mention that I have never had anyone close to me murdered (unless you count some distant relatives before my time in the holocaust– a different matter). I do, however, believe in justice, as well as public safety…”

Diane March 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

DD Web Site Reader Franz Kurtz writes:

“No question for civilized and educated contemporary citizen:

No DP, and alternatives to punishment by incarceration. More attention to Separation of Powers and independent investigation.”

Diane March 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

DD Web Site Reader Doug O’Brien writes:

“I am in favor of the penalty theoretically; however its implementation has been beyond horrendous and it should be abolished.”

Diane March 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm

DD Web Site Reader Jeff Hughes writes:

“Killers need to be killed off, too…not rehabilitated! This doesn’t include the military, in my opinion(other than the nuts). Seems like the ones that are pro-life and live and let live are not where they can see that there is a seamy side to life….they just read about it.”

Diane March 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Facebook Friend Ronald Jeffries Tallman writes:

“?2/3 of the American public still favor the DP in some form. If you can convince me LIP will result in one being somehow productive there either by making something (producing ) or offering society information on their own behavior(s) I would think twice. But since it is so expensive to appeal (DP cases) with all the legal red tape and delays I could be persuaded (to LIP) vs based upon this. If there is to be execution of course there need be 100% verifiable proof. Then a speedy trial, speedy appeal. Swift and quick justice.

If you can use DNA to exonerate then you can use the same to convict. After reading, seeing and hearing some of these cases for yrs and seeing some escape from death row and LIP you can see that I am still in the majority.”

Frank Praytor March 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm

History is replete with scenarios in which witnesses are murdered just because they were witnesses. Where there’s no death penalty for any murder, the murderer’s rational is “if I’m facing life for what I do, then I have nothing to lose by killing the people whose testimonies could send me off for life…” The result is death for innocent folks who have the misfortune of being witnesses.
Where the probability of a death sentence is not an inhibitor, a child molester/murderer gets his punishment in the form of a room and three squares a day for the rest of his sorry life, plus the cruel infliction of gym and recreation facilities — and of course sex, such as it is, after lights out — all at tax payers’ expense. If they’re in New Mexico, time off for good behavior is virtually assured.
By the way, they don’t hang or electrocute anymore. Execution is no more painful than a needle stick. If that’s too much to see, then stay the hell away.

Diane March 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm

You are not correct when you say “they don’t hang or electrocute anymore.” There are several states that give the condemned the right to choose the way they want to die. As I said in the column – some of those alternatives to a “painful needle stick” have been used in recent history. If a condemned inmate declared tomorrow (in one of the eligible states) that he wanted to die by hanging or firing squad – etc – the state is on record promising to accommodate.

Frank Praytor March 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

You’re correct, of course. I should have pointed out the elective factor. But as standard operating procedures, ropes and Reddy Kilowatt are optional to the convicted; they no longer are the rule.

steve hammill March 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Why re-think it? I’ve known killers, rapists, and bank robbers. Everyone that I met should have been executed, because they all committed their crimes multiple times.

Many people cannot do the dirty work of life; thankfully there are still a few who can.

Roy Black March 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Diane: If the death penalty is actually a deterrent I suggest we execute all prosecutors and police officers who send an innocent man or woman to death row. I imagine that will make them more careful in the future.

Diane March 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Dear Roy:
Spoken like a veteran criminal defense attorney! Thanks for chiming in! ~ DD

Nancy Erickson March 28, 2011 at 6:34 am

It’s barbaric when you think of it. I agree with Roy to a degree though. The part I disagree with is the word “careful”. I believe it should be replaced with over ambitious law enforcement who make their names on the backs of many innocent people. It’s really about power to some of these sociopathic and megalomanic prosecutors and police officers. Yes, there are some really dangerous ones out there. Then you must mention the court system itself. Witholding evidence to jury’s, bribing witnesses – you get the general idea. Soooo in light of the fact some of what I said might be true, the death penalty really has no place in our society as it also doesn’t deter killers from killing.

Joel S. Davis March 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

… only if we also execute judges and jurors who refrain from sentencing a murderer to death and that murderer goes on to murder someone else. Bureau of Justice numbers clearly demonstrate that there are vastly more of those.

Diane March 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm

DD Web Site Reader Dudley Sharpe writes:

“How disingenuous is Gov. Quinn?

Quinn says that the death penalty must be ended because it can’t be perfect.

All human systems are imperfect.

Of all human endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

Look at the imperfect Illinois Governor’s office.

We have imprisoned felon ex Gov Ryan, who was part of a scam resulting in the deaths of 6 innocent children.

There are known criminals, released via parole, probation, early release provisions, clemency and/or commutations – how many innocents have been harmed/murdered by those so released in Illinois?

Hundreds, thousands?

Who wrongly released these criminals to prey upon the innocent? Governors, parole boards and the state legislature, via laws signed by Governors and written by Illinois’ legislatures?

According to those who voted for the death penalty repeal bill and the governor who signed it into law, we must, now, repeal those institutions, unless they can be made perfect. They can’t.

How many actual innocents do we know have been executed in Illinois?


Do living murderers harm and murder, again? Of course. What about executed murderers?”

Diane March 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Huffington Post Reader AmerianStudent writes:

“I applaud Illinois for eliminatin­g the death penalty, especially in light of what the Gov revealed about the number of innocents executed or currently on death row. That being said, there is no reason to abolish the death penalty entirely. Not only are prisoners serving life sentences a drain on the resources of the state, but since they will expire in prison anyway, it’s really just a delayed death sentence. Dragging it out 50 years does nothing except give the prisoner a lot of thinking time. Although it is often said that having to live knowing what you did is a worse punishment­, there are always those hard-core criminals who don’t even think about killing after all they’ve done. These criminals are also the most likely to be serving life sentences. Moreover, a prisoner on a life sentence is just sitting in jail doing nothing, with the exception of light prison industries­. If they were sentenced to life, and then made to work a 8 to 6 shift every day in an employment useful or vital to the state, I would be happy to abolish the death penalty entirely. “

Diane March 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Dudley Sharp writes:

“I don’t know how interestin­g it is that “many victims’ families are against the death penalty believing it serves no purpose in bringing back their loved one.”

Does anyone believe that any sentence will bring back their murdered loved ones? Of course not.

Again, this is one of the dumber anti death penalty sayings. I guess we should get rid of all sentences, huh? Or do murdered loved ones become revived after the completion of some criminal sanctions?

Its ridiculous­.”

Diane March 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Huffington Post Reader Carl Caroli writes:

“If the system cannot be guaranteed 100 percent error free, then we cannot have the system,” Said Quinn. “It just is not right.”
That says it all. Too many innocent people have been put to death because of over zealous prosecutor­s looking to boost their careers. While permanent incarcerat­ion is incredibly expensive and clearly sick minds must be dealt with, in the name of humanity we should not resort to an eye for eye mentality.”

Diane March 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Huffington Post Reader jsgaetano writes:

“The government has repeatedly proved it cannot be trusted with the authority to kill people.

Capital punishment has been used as a way to make sure innocent people are never able to be exonerated.”

Diane March 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Huffington Post Reader MoeB writes:

” I understand the families need for retributio­n as well…but the reality is that it is not MORE moral to take a life when mercy can be granted.

I’d like to have a death penalty proponent explain to me how taking ANOTHER life is BETTER for society, particular­ly when we’ve already demonstrat­ed that we can lock people up.

Further, lots of proponents of the DP take issue with the term “innocent”­…they prefer “not guilty” I suppose…­because it makes their numbers (by numbers I mean those on death row who’ve been released) seem not so barbaric. But here’s the deal…if we’ve executed even ONE innocent person, that makes all of us who support the DP complacent in killing (see murdering) innocent people. Which, ironically­, should subject us to the DP ourselves.

The only thing the DP teaches us is that killing is wrong…ex­cept for when it isn’t. “

Diane March 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Huffington Post Reader BlueZoo writes:

“We have all seen people who have been proven guilty without a shred of doubt involved in the guilt. Jeffrey Dahmer comes to mind here. I still cannot fathom how killing the killer brings me any peace, though. Isn’t my loved one still dead and gone from my life? How do you justify “an eye for an eye” when we have supposedly graduated into a less feral society? The possibilit­y that I could convict someone without that “shred of doubt” being present is the prime reason for abolishing the death penalty and the main reason I personally cannot serve on a death penalty case.”

Diane March 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm

LinkedIn Friend Michael McLeod writes:

” I think it is difficult for anyone to that has not been involved in the crime to make a fact based decision on the death penalty. My parents had a couple they were friends with whose daughter was killed by Ted Bundy. Every time there was a news article, made for TV movie etc. they had to relive the tragedy over and over again. The impact on the victims is beyond most of our imagination, while we share their grief we can’t comprehend the reality they live with every day.
While I support the death penalty I think only people like my parents friends should make the final decision. “

Kristin Guttormsen March 26, 2011 at 5:35 am

Most of us have seen it on television or in a movie. A young kid on the verge of puberty riding along on his bike when suddenly the clouds part and a ray of sunshine falls upon the form of a girl emerging from her new home. The boy, who has never noticed such things before, is suddenly awestruck by her femininity and stares – utterly transfixed… right up until he plows into a tree in her front yard and goes flying head over rump into the ground. The thing is, this was not a movie or a sitcom. Not for me. I have the dubious honor of having actually ridden into a tree the day I first noticed man’s bane – the girl.

It was 1983, and I was eleven years old. Her name was Charla Wheat and she had just moved into the place two doors down from me. The house had been recently vacated by the family of my friend Tina, and I was still somewhat upset about the move. I think that is what made me look over in the first place… chasing some old ghosts. Whatever made me look over, my life would never be the same again.

I was not popular (or particularly attractive) as a kid, so I think that slowed my social development. Before Charla I had never really had the need to meet new people, but as I lay there in the grass bleeding from various points of sudden flora impact, the only thing I could ponder was how I was going to get up the nerve to talk to this girl. Charla took care of that for me as suddenly I was looking up into the face of angel, asking me if I was ok. I will save you the suspense, she was never interested in me that way; but we did become very good friends. Six years later Charla moved away so her father could take over a new ministry in Texas. You know, I never have forgiven that house for sending away all the women in my life.

In 1991, just a year and-a-half after moving, Charla was stabbed to death. There was a knock on the door of her apartment. She opened it and found Billy Ray Nelson, a neighbor, asking if he could use her phone. Once inside he cut the phone lines to prevent her from calling for help and then started stabbing her. He then forced Carol Maynard, Charla’s five month pregnant roommate, out of bed and into the front room where Charla was bleeding from her wounds. Nelson threatened to kill the women unless they undressed, and he then forced them to perform various depraved sexual acts on him and with each other. Then he stabbed Maynard in the neck and beat Charla. Nelson then left but returned when Charla started screaming for help. While Maynard pretended to be dead, Nelson struck and stabbed Wheat thirteen times until my young, beautiful, sweet, talented friend finally died. He then left the apartment and went back to his place to shower and change. That was the day my compassion for criminals died too.

I found out about it after the man had been arrested. That is quite probably the only reason he is still alive. He has no idea how lucky he is. There was never any question of his guilt, since he openly confessed to the entire gruesome act. It was an easy vote for the jury to sentence him to die. Sadly, last I checked, his death sentence had been commuted by a ruling of the court. What angers me most about it is that his appeals cases have become central to the capital punishment debate, especially with regards to Texas law. So instead of remembering Charla when his name is brought up, people will remember him and how he is to praise and thank for his part in getting people ‘justice’, or civilizing our treatment of criminals. Maybe some day some slick lawyer will find a way to get him released completely on some bleeding heart technicality. Hahahahaha, bleeding heart…oh the irony.

Well, should that day ever come I will rejoice. On that day Billy Ray Nelson will lose the protection of our failed criminal justice system, and be finally susceptible to the same sort of fairness and personal justice he visited upon my dear friend and others. People who question the morality or compassion of the death penalty should remember that the deaths the State offers to criminals are far quicker and more civilized than those sought by the friends and family of the wrongfully deceased. Indeed, they are nicer than the deaths those criminals caused to be so sentenced. They are, in short, more merciful by far than monsters like Billy Ray Nelson deserve.

I still have the picture Charla gave me in my wallet. It is right on top of her obituary from our local paper. I miss you Charla.

Alfonso March 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm

If death-penalty opponents ever succeed in eliminating capital punishment, their next target for elimination will be life without parole — or as lawyers call it, LWOP.
Portugal, Spain and Norway have softer penal systems in the world, in fact these are the only European Union countries that have no life imprisonment.
There is Not Life in Spain. In Spain, the fanaticism of defenders of the rights of criminals is so great life imprisonment that opposes even when there is a possibility of parole. In 1975 the criminal law in Spain professors demanded the abolition of the death penalty and prohibition of all sentences of more than 20 years. Spain currently the maximum penalty is 20 years for first degree murder, if it is a multiple murder the maximum sentence is 25 years however penal reform in 2003 raises the maximum compliance in a case 40 years. terrorism important to note that were these penalties fully never implemented; in 25 years, when the subject has been convicted of two or more crimes and punisher is one of them by law with imprisonment of up to 20 years.
in 30 years, when the subject has been convicted of two or more crimes and some of them by punisher by law is 20 years imprisonment exceeding.
40, when the subject has been convicted of two or more crimes and at least two of them are legally punisher by imprisonment exceeding 20 years.
40, when the subject has been convicted of two or more crimes of terrorism in the second section of chapter v of title xxii of book ii of this code and any of them by punisher by law is 20 years imprisonment exceeding.
you see that follows the principle applies above here, though instead of the limit of 20 years establishing the 40, but the substance remains the same: do not care to kill three to thirty-three or three hundred thirty-three people.
currently in use there are powerful lobby groups who seek the abolition of the prison along models to Spain and other European countries: Prison Reform International, Prison Legal News, Human Rights Watch, ACLU, they are generously funded by Ford Foundation, George Soros Open Society … that’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I reported that the Heritage Foundation here to victims unite to combat the anti-incarceration movement here.
Debra Saunders has 2 excellent articles on this question:
Keep Life Without Parole, Life After Death,_life_after_death
Escaping the Myth of ‘Three Strikes’ State Prison Law

Diane April 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Facebook Friend (and neighbor) Dylan Skriloff writes:

“My bones with the DP is that there are occasional innocent people put to death. Imagine being not guilty and being put to death. It’s bad enough getting life in prison, but getting executed for something you didn’t do — Ouch!

They had cases exposed in the last 20 years of innocent people being executed. We can’t have that!

On the moral level if everyone sentenced to death was guilty, I could go for it. A lot of them deserve it and quite frankly might be put out of their misery. (Might be a good thing for them)”

candice August 4, 2011 at 12:36 am

I do not believe in the death penalty. If you look at it from God’s law, it is a sin, but the government law says it is ok. It’s not.okay. Look at how many Innocent people are sent to death row. Some have even died and laterearned they were innocent. The only ones that truly suffer are the families.

Criminals need to be punished, but when people push for the death penalty, I have to wonder why it is so easy for them. Some will never be punished and I would rather tax dollars be spent on putting these people away before killing a person that is being punished.

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