Marc Bookman is a good lawyer; an acquaintance of mine.
Although he is good lawyer, he’ll never pull down Big Lawyer bucks because he’s pretty much devoted himself to lost causes, those already convicted, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind people. He is the executive director of the nonprofit Atlantic Center for Capital Representation.
We met after I had taken up the cause of Marcus Perez, a man who had taken a guilty plea for murder on the promise that his sentence would be 17 ½ to 35 years. Due to a mistake on the part of a judge, Marcus wound up with life, with no chance of parole.
As I soon learned, Marc was Marcus’ lawyer.
Marc and I agree that Marcus got jobbed. We agree on a few other things, disagree on more.
Marc has just finished a book, which you can see above. It is 12 essays against the death penalty. I’m sure it is well reasoned and well argued, but I won’t read it.
I am for the death penalty and nothing will change my mind.
I have been thinking and arguing about it for decades and I know all the arguments, and I have all the counter arguments. My view is unchanged over the years, even as public opinion has swung back and forth.
Currently, 55% of Americans favor the death penalty for murder, the lowest it has been in 50 years, according to Gallup. And 45% are against.
55-45 is a far bigger gap than most presidential elections.
Interestingly, Gallup asked the question a different way, with different results. “60% of Americans asked to choose whether the death penalty or life without possibility of parole is the better penalty for murder chose the life-sentencing option. 36% favored the death penalty,” Gallup reported. It illustrates how the question is asked can shape the result.
When I say I am in favor of the death penalty, it’s not like I’m the Queen of Hearts screeching “off with their heads.”
Like some say about abortion — safe, legal, rare — that’s how I feel about the death penalty. Safe meaning death is sure and more or less painless. Legal speaks for itself. Rare meaning it should be reserved for premeditated murder and perhaps a few heinous crimes, and there should be no doubt of guilt. Zero.
Why would I keep the death penalty?
First, some people deserve to die. Any adult who murders a child is beyond reformation in my book.
Second, it protects society. Life imprisonment does not do that. The Curran-Fromhold correctional facility is named after two correction officers who were murdered by convicts.
A life sentence is a license to kill — other inmates or guards.
No, we can’t keep them in solitary confinement because the courts have said that is cruel and unusual.
Third, as a bargaining chip. While many opponents say being locked away for life is worse than death, most convicts disagree and will take a plea bargain guaranteeing them life, rather than the chair, firing squad, or gas chamber.
While I agree putting life in the hands of government, and the justice system, is an iffy proposition, I will take that.
OK — arguments against it.
1- It favors the rich who can afford the best lawyers.
Well, everything favors the rich, so we must find the best lawyers for the accused who are poor, people like Marc Bookman, for instance.
2- If a mistake is made, it is irreversible.
True, so don’t make mistakes. That’s why DP can be used only when there is no shadow of a doubt.
3- It is employed more often against nonwhite and poor persons.
Also true, which is why the state is obligated to get them excellent attorneys.
4- It costs a fortune.
Only because we stupidly allow unlimited appeals. A DP sentence takes decades before it is carried out.
5- It is not a detterent.
Well, it deters that person from killing again. Moreover, it will never be a deterrent when the punishment is decades removed from the sentence.
6- It is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court says otherwise.
7- It is immoral to take human life.
But they have, and the state is taking guilty life.
8- The vast majority of democracies have abandoned the death penalty.
They are also enraptured by soccer. So what?
Lately there have been debates over the method of execution and some chemical manufacturers are refusing to have their products used in the gas chamber.
The electric chair sometimes does not produce the desired effect, and hangings are sometimes botched. It makes you long for the guillotine, I tell you.
Well, tough if it hurts a little. I am not as sympathetic to murderers as are some others.
Matter of fact, I have an idea for the method of execution that I think is completely fair, and — as they say today — equitable.
Murderers themselves choose their form of execution.
If the murderer used a gun, he will be shot to death.
If he killed by strangulating his victim, he will be strangled.
If she drowned her child, she will be drowned.
If that isn’t justice, then what is
i respect the opinion of those who would not put a murderer to death. I hope they respect the opinion of those who would.