Friday, September 22, 2006

by Theresa Haffner

We are a civilized race.

We pride ourselves on our humanity.

Yet we are able to discuss rationally which method of execution is more humane. Electrocution, gas pellets, hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

The message we send with capital punishment is that we don’t value human life any more than the criminals we execute.

In the past the major purpose for execution was to insure that the criminal could never commit his crimes again, as in the Old West, when prisons were not as effective and escape was more possible.

Escape from high security prisons is unlikely.

The weakest excuse I have heard is that it costs too much to house the criminals. The cost of maintaining a high profile capital criminal is not any more than your average three striker.

If the motive is to prevent more murders and heinous crimes, wouldn’t imprisonment with psychiatric evaluation and research into motive be more valuable than destroying the criminal?

The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill.” That seems pretty clear to me. If we want to stop the cycle of murder, then we have to stop murdering the murderers.

The most touted reason for capital punishment is that it serves as a deterrent to further crimes.

Mass murderers usually commit suicide at the end of their spree. Serial killers usually are caught with much media coverage before and after their capture. Then a high profile court case, and even with a death sentence, a considerably long life span—enough to guarantee their national, even world fame. Enough to make it worth it to certain types of individuals, in spite of the inevitability of the end.

As a deterrent, capital punishment may just up the ante—raise the stakes enough to make the game really exciting. For some people, Capital Punishment may actually be an inducement to murder.

The other thing that is lost is the possibility of rehabilitated human beings. Tex Watson. Bobby Beausoleil.

I won’t even touch the idea that some convicted murderers might actually be not guilty. Their innocence unable to be proven until some time in the future.

Something further. These executions are carried out in our name. We the people versus the defendant. If the blood is on our hands, it is our right and our obligation to witness them. They should be nationally televised or at least broadcast on the 11 o’clock news. Seeing a few of these killings might change the minds of a few proponents. As well as a few prospective criminals.

Bottom line. If we murder the criminals, we are no better than the criminals themselves.

The only way to stop the cycle of murder is to stop killing.

Theresa Haffner
September 16, 2006
Los Angeles, CA 90013


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