Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Go ahead. Make the case for mercy. I'll wait.

Unless you're advocating something really special for Joseph Duncan's life sentence -- daily anal rape by zombies, perhaps -- the only correct answer to the death sentence here is WOOHOO! Continued existence of this useless sack insults fundamental notions of civilization, not to mention criminal justice.

(RCS? AFT? The floor is yours.)


MC said...

Perhaps one of those special shivs from Prison Break is in order (one of those dealies that hooks part of the victim's intestines while inside and pulls it semi-pierced outside on the follow through... and which subsequently kills you after two weeks of agony in the prison hospital.

mfheadcase said...

I have always tended to waffle on the death penalty personally... Though this is a case that eliminates most of my objections.

I oppose it in this case though on one and only one ground... Death is too good for him..

The death penalty keeps this asshole out of the general population.

I wan this guy crippled and dropped into genpop.

Jana said...

I find nothing so heinous as crimes against children. Especially those of a sexual nature. And as a mother (especially as one of a little girl) I want every possible unspeakable act delivered back upon the perpetrator.

However I also understand – at least on an intellectual level – that retribution of this kind is bad for our souls as well as the rule of law. We really just need to wash our hands of these people, stick a needle in their arm and be done with it. You aren’t worth our time and effort.

Which is why the ruling a few weeks back that you can’t give the death penalty to non-capital criminals – even those who raped kids- just frustrated me beyond belief.

This man will still have years of appeals left to him – the problem with the death penalty in cases where the proof is clear and uncontestable (and that is not always certain, though more so these days than in the past) – is that it lacks the swiftness we really need. Let’s get it done. Today.

AG said...

Damn, Matthew, that is some *special* new photo today. Also, that's Prison Break? Holy socks. I thought a person had to roll back to the Oz DVDs for that sort of, um,... yeah.

MFH and Jana, you're sort of presenting two sides of the problem that's gumming up the works for me -- suffering and visibility. I don't believe in capital punishment as a deterrent; it's not. (Hell, in this culture it's damn near glamorous.) I'll admit I want this guy to suffer enormously. And I want the families to suffer as little additional misery as possible.

For society at large, I'm somewhere in between -- I honestly think that society is owed some sort of satisfaction re this guy (as he is any way you slice it going to be a major drain on us, whether that's the public costs of the capture, trial and punishment or the private, more diffuse costs to heal the survivors and others who had connection to the case). OTOH, I like the fact that our system has mechanisms -- not perfect mechanisms, but some mechanisms -- to make sure that innocent folk aren't executed, and that we do have some ability to, however belatedly, rectify bad rulings. On the OTHER other hand, delay is agony for the families, but attenuates the horror for most of the rest of us, who just sort of... go on.

So what to do? Guy's 1) manifestly, absolutely guilty (video + DNA + eyewitnesses = yes), 2) irredeemable in any reasonable sense of the word (as in, continued existence in prison wouldn't so much give him time to see the error of his ways as it would time to "enjoy" the memories), and 3) we have him under lock and key.

In a more creative system, at this point we'd agree that Joseph Duncan's life is forfeit to society -- but the *means* of that forfeit is up to the family. Spare him and lock him up forever? Die by their hands (with lifelong counseling available for them after as thanks for a job well done)? Die on a gurney? The only option I'd leave off the table is prolonged torture; that's the fig leaf we keep to remind ourselves that we're better than this guy. The remaining options provide for a measure of mercy, or of vengeance, or of swiftness; as the main "shareholders" in this decision, I leave that up to the families. We have in any case our justice, and they have the thing they most need to get by.

And any protester who claims that the families who choose execution would simply be doing what Duncan did to their loved ones are invited to take his place. Duncan gets life in gen pop, and the person with the high standards gets... whatever. (Ever wonder how many of those protesters would have, were it possible, offered to have switched places with the victim(s)?)

mfheadcase said...

Hell, I'll take the death penalty for this gut as being the most practical alternative. While awaiting execution, he will be in a position where it will be more difficult for him to harm other people. And unless the world has changed into a cheesy horror movie, impossible after.

The more bloodthirsty part of me wants him hamstrung and then dropped into the general population of the prison. There should be plenty of folks there who would cheerfully take good care of him.

The most rational part of me wants to study this son of a bitch. Try to figure out just what the hell went wrong in his development, and maybe figure out a way to stop more people like him from happening.

I want to know what turned this guy into a monster, and whether it can be prefented if caught early enough.

But lethal injection will do, or perhaps even better, go back to using a gas chamber, but using carbon monoxide instead of cyanide. The guy'll be dead before he is aware the switch was thrown, euthanasia works for mad dogs, why not for the bi-pedal equivalents?

MC said...

From someone in a non-death penalty country, I say study the hell out of Bernardo up here and let the hammer fall down there if that's how it comes out.

To AG: Prison Break is surprisingly brutal for an 8PM show, that's for sure... and my icon is Santo. You don't like Santo?

Jana said...

As appealing as it sounds - I have a bit of a problem with just tossing him to the general population in prison. (for the record that's exactly what the mom side of me would hope for if you couldn't give the family 10 minutes and a baseball bat)

I've always been a little wary when people talk about letting criminals in jail mete out punishment to other criminals. It's always felt a bit like a cop out to me. Yeah - we've made the laws and punishments to fit the crimes - but we're not really satisfied with that so let's just let the criminal world deal with it where we don't have to look at it or take responsibility for it.

I don't necessilarly want to advocate returning to an eye for an eye - but viscerally that's what part of me belives is appropriate. And possibly the best deterrant we could have.

AG said...

Agreed, Jana, re the problem of gen pop, since I do believe that many folks in the penal system *do* find something better, some hope of betterment or even redemption. That's better accomplished in a situation where brutality is not an encouraged behavior.