A vote for the death penalty

A local lawyer, a frenemy, told me he had written a book about the death penalty, and asked if I would read it. 

It was anti-death penalty, a dozen essays opposing the penalty rather than a book with a singular narrative thread.

The monster before sentencing that saved his lousy life.

I told him I would read it if he had a single argument that I had already not heard. He could not do that and he got angry.

Because I support the death penalty and have been defending it for decades, I have heard every argument against it — from sometimes innocent people being convicted, to discrimination against the poor and nonwhite.

These are serious flaws, but not fatal flaws, if you will forgive the word play. They can be fixed. 

Serious people can have honest disagreements about giving the state the power of life and death. 

I am not for imposing the death penalty willy-nilly. As someone once said about abortion, it ought to be safe, legal, and rare. Well, maybe not “safe.” Let’s say “pain free.”

 It must be reserved for the worst of the worst, starting with child killers. 

I am not going to list all the reasons for keeping the death penalty. I am going to present just one, taken from the headlines earlier this week.

Robert Aaron Long. 

Chances are you don’t know his name, but you do know his deed.

He’s the 22-year-old monster, supposedly a porn and prostituion addict, who murdered eight people in Atlanta-area spas on March 16.

Earlier this week — to avoid the death penalty — he accepted sentence to four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. He faces another four murder charges in another county, where the prosecutor says she wants the death penalty.

As you know, many death penalty opponents claim that life in prison is worse than death. Not for Robert Aaron Long.

And not for almost every convict given the option. Life behind bars means free meals and lodging, television, books, magazines, gym facilities and sometimes even computer access.

The prosecutor in Cherokee County made the deal with Long, and the victims’ families approved. If it’s OK with them, it’s OK with me, although it does leave Long free to kill again, within the walls of the prison.

By accepting the plea deal, the families didn’t have to be subjected to a long, emotional trial, and the taxpayers didn’t have to pay for it. 

The threat of the death penalty is a bargaining chip prosecutors can use to get a quick admission of guilt, and a sentence agreed to by all sides.

Without the death penalty, the accused might as well roll the dice at trial, because the worst they can get is life.

Capital punishment is a divisive issue, with polling going up and down with the times. A small majority of 55% approve of it now, but I expect it to rise along with the murder rate. 

22 thoughts on “A vote for the death penalty”

  1. Thanks, Stu, for another well thought out treatise regarding a very devisive issue for many.

    I do think you summed it up quite properly with you next-to-last sentence: “Without the death penalty, the accused might as well roll the dice at trial, because the worst they can get is life.” That truly is the bottom line with this subject.

    As always, a well written piece of factual work. You may remember that Pam and I ( and most of my family ) believe in the death penalty. Maybe, having cops in the family for generations plays a part in that decision making. Alright, a large part.
    However, we differ on many points. We are not as selective as you. If you kill someone, you forfeit all rights, including the right to life. We also don’t approve of the long drawn out process of seeking the death penalty, then implementing same. I’m pretty sure, that Israel law acts so much quicker. Guilty today – jail today. We shouldn’t have to drag out the process for years.
    Wesley Cook, AKA mumia abu jamal, has been on and off death row since 1982, when he was found guilty of murdering Philly Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. This sub-species has had all of the comforts of home – and then some. He has degrees that he never would have earned as a civilian. He has world support, because people like to get on a freedom train. ( Any train for that matter ).
    In the ’90s, I was travelling around the country, overseeing the construction of these motels that we call correctional institutes. I prefer the word prison. I have been in the old historic Holmesburg prison. Fantastic place, you should read up on it.
    The Judicial system needs help for sure. We are entitled to a fair trial within a reasonable time frame. Improve the famous pool of ‘court appointed attorneys’. You get one shot at proving your innocents. If found guilty, then I would like the opportunity to have my ‘shot’ at seeing justice served .

  3. We have been let down by those in leadership who make decisions based on voter blocks and not the reality of continual crime activity with no real penalty. Your points have the strength to prove the case for a final result in a guilty verdict for the most horrific of crimes. Once incarcerated for life there is no other applicable penalty for the murder of a prison guard or other cellmate so they get a free pass to murder again. There is still a Death penalty law in the state of Pennsylvania but the Governor has placed a moratorium on its implementation. The Governor has the power to legally allow the execution of the vilest, useless pieces of human trash in our city and state. If he accepts the liberal view that the death of just one innocent person is too many then why not have the deans of all our most prestigious law schools produce a system of appeals that would be so foolproof that the evidence, witnesses, and all the steps given in due process could be scrutinized. This would ensure that the burden of proof has been met and is concretely secure so that any further legal challenges would be superfluous. Morally we speak for the victims and their families and should have a priority in the legal process once guilt has been proven. If the majority of the citizens of Pennsylvania are in favor of the death penalty then the Governor should respect and support their wishes and establish a procedure to ensure the rights of the accused but just as important protect the victim’s rights for justice. Our society has to recognize that some of our species have no human capabilities or moral code and cannot be rehabilitated. The death penalty is simply the removal of evil, non-human pieces of body parts.

    1. HAPPY FRIDAY !!!
      You make some good points. Our country bent over backwards to allow the ACLU the right to make a mess out of most of our laws, be they local or nationwide. With that said, a revamping of the judicial system is in order. Deans of law schools wouldn’t be my first choice. They are far too liberal. I knew how to build prisons, not write the law, so that leaves me out of the loop.
      Because the system is so screwed up, we have to give a convicted murderer multiple life sentences, hoping that one of those murders will actually keep him/her in jail, if not kill them. ( see wesley cook, AKA mumia abu jamal ) Committing another murder while in jail will get you another life without parole sentence, sorry to say. Harris killed a girl, got sent to Rahway. Mudman Smith killed a cop, got sent to Rahway. Harris killed smith. N.J. gave him a ‘life without parole” What happens if down the road, ‘life without parole’ becomes ‘life after twenty served’ ?
      Lastly. I do not refer to these ‘things’ as human beings and I certainly will not insult the animal kingdom. Two legged animals kill for sport or fun or whatever. Four legged animals kill to survive.
      I prefer the term, “Lower Life Form”.

      1. Thanks for the comments and I choose the Deans from law school as at least it would have a possibility of passing against the District Attorney’s or the Judicial branch who cause much of the problems. I have a deep personal interest in the death penalty based on my career in law enforcement and being a friend of Danny Faulkner and was on the scene when he was assassinated by the perfect example of an Amoeba worthy of the death penalty. Any Judicial body that continues to hear the whining of the ultra-liberal pro-bono lawyers in defense of this creton should be struck with a gavel when they listen to any of the 40-year filings of litigious barfing by publicly seeking ambulance chasers.

  4. “If you take a life, you forfeit yours.” That’s one of many reasons I found on Wikipedia. What would it be like if someone murdered a family member? I think I know. 

    I met someone one time who was later murdered. Although she was not close to me, I’m related to her son. When and what they tell this five year old about her mother I haven’t the slightest.  Will her killer still be in prison or dead when he grows up?  Will it matter? The ramifications of this evil and selfish deed are endless. It’s too easy to say capital punishment is too harsh. “If you take a life you forfeit yours,” seems like justice to me. 

    1. HAPPY FRIDAY !!!
      I agree with you, Tom. The law does not state that if you are Quaker or Amish, you can forgive and forget. It’s been proven countless times. Those that break the law will do it as often as they can. A life is meaningless to sub-humans like them.

  5. Hi Stu,
    How much does it cost to incarcerate a person per year? I like the phrase, “pain-free, legal, and rare”.


      When I was building prisons back in the ’90s, the average was TWENTYFIVE THOUSAND for a motel room in a minimum security facility. Maximum was more, as was the high security Federal prisons.
      We could have saved a lot of money – especially in Philly by letting the Philadelphia Police Cadets practice shooting at live targets. They’re located right up State Road from the correctional facilities.
      and I’m not joking

  6. I think for certain heinous crimes it should be an option. The way it’s applied in some states I can not agree with. The biggest drawback is that it’s irrevocable. There have been people executed who are not guilty. Not many, but still. There are innocent people in prison that have been released and given restitution. If they’re dead, not much you can do about that. The burden of proof should not be beyond a reasonable doubt, it must be beyond ANY doubt and a particularly unconscionable crime. Stu pretty much said that, I just feel there are some death penalty advocates who don’t and that’s wrong.

  7. The pursuit of justice in the USA has become a running joke. For us older folks, go back and review the Caryl Chessman case and how long that travesty went on. For more contemporary folks, consider the killer of policeman Faulkner here in Philadelphia (I refuse to use his name). That case went on for years and the Left made the killer a star. The death penalty, when properly applied, works: the perp will not commit any more crimes.

    Now, being a cartoonist, I have a few death-penalty cartoons: in one, a man on a gallows stands with the rope around his neck. The executioner says, “The trapdoor is stuck. Would you mind jumping up and down on it?”

    1. That’s a good one Vince.
      25 Minutes To Go is a song by Johnny Cash. Look it up and listen. Johnny covered many songs about this subject. Including, The Mercy Seat.

    2. Too bad you can’t post the cartoon here. A failure of Word Press.
      As for Mumia, not even the Left takes up his cause. It is the Far Left.
      Rallies on his behalf here draw no more than 50, mostly stupid college students from out of town.

      1. Mumia, the man who ruined life for the Faulkner family, now living the rest of his life with a guaranteed three hots and a cot. Something wrong here.

        A cartoon: An executioner is about to throw the lever to open the trapdoor under the condemned about to be hanged, and he says “Oh, by the way — happy birthday!”

        1. the convict is sitting in the electric chair, waiting for the warden to throw the switch. A guard walks up to the prisoner carrying a cup. The guard says, “hold my cup, my coffee is cold “!

  8. As far as the death penalty goes, I am both for and against it, depending on the situation. I do not feel there is, nor will there ever be, a definitive answer.

  9. I handled many death penalty cases when I was a prosecutor. It is the prosecutor’s call as long as the case is eligible. We always asked the family members of the victim for input, but I made the ultimate decision. In one case, I was faced with an adamantly anti-death penalty family. Principled stance totally opposed to the death penalty. I tried the case in all its gory detail and the death penalty was, in fact, imposed. As was my custom, I met with the victim’s family after the verdict. I expected to be chastised. After all, these folks had expressed their strongly held view that the death penalty was immoral, a sin. They sat through the whole trial even when I suggested they step out because I knew gruesome testimony was coming. The victim’s son, who had emerged as the group’s spokesman, opened up the discussion by saying that, as a group, the family is still anti-death penalty…. except for this guy. It was an atrocious killing, to be sure. But principles are really put to the test when, suddenly, it is real to YOU.

Comments are closed.