(Originally Posted: 09.12.1997)
Every now and again, there is an execution in the United States and people who do not believe that capital punishment is a good policy come out and hold candlelight vigils. While I abhor the taking of life, the harsh reality we must face is that capital punishment is meant as a deterrent, not for other wuold-be perpetrators, but for the one involved. Granted, there are those on the Right who would have you believe that capital punishment is meant to “remind” others of what could happen to them if they do the same thing. That is a lie. The purpose of capital punishment is to address the instant crime. In other words, it comes down to a simple concept: If you take a life, you give your life.
Inevitably that lame argument of “inhumanity” comes up. We are told that we should be concerned about the pain that the convict feels. We should remember that electrocution is painful. Maybe we should stop worrying about the perpetrator’s rights and feelings and start looking at how their actions adversely affect society. If we started punishing based upon how the perpetrator affects society, we might see a reduction in crime. For example:
About three years ago, a woman in Piscataway, NJ, was raped and murdered by a man who had abducted her from a local mall. What were the impacts?
1) inflicted trauma, pain, and humiliation while degrading a woman.
2) killed a wife, mother, and relative.
3) destroyed the childhood of two children.
4) left a man alone to raise those two children.
5) traumatized a family.
6) frightened a community into staying away from the mall.
7) has slowly driven the mall to the point of extinction. Where there were once 40 stores, the mall now holds twenty.
8) has put people out of work. The twenty stores that went out took approximately sixty jobs with them all told.
9) indirectly blighted a commercial and industrial area that was thriving.
So what was his punishment? The family got a chance to yell at him and he will be confined to jail for the rest of his life. What does he get to do in jail? For starters, he gets three meals a day. What about the families of those put out of work? Will they have three meals a day? He has cable, weightlifting equipment, books, and magazines to use and read. Will that be available to the families he affected? He will be able to see family and friends at certain times of the month and year. The woman’s family can’t see her anymore. Her children won’t have their mother around for support, protection, and love. But that’s okay because her murderer is being “rehabilitated.” Never mind the fact that he will never be let out of jail.
Hmmm. Some punishment.