In Utah a fellow human being was strapped in a chair and six men with rifles took aim.
Now as is a custom of formal firing squads, only five out the six had real bullets while one would have a blank. This so that the members of the firing squad can ease their feeling of guilt or reservation by excusing them as they were the one with the blank. As such the penalty of death was carried out against that human after being convicted and sentenced to death for killing someone in his attempt to escape from his trial for murdering another human being.
A cold and orderly murder by the State and the society of Utah.
Is it the right of a humane society to order and carry out the intentional killing of a human being?
A question that has been discussed and argued for hundreds of years in this country among others. Some other countries even if the crime does not carry the death penalty will not extradite someone to the United States because we have the death penalty for some crimes.
Is the death penalty a deterrent? In 1973 a survey was done of everyone who had been sentenced to death and were waiting for the sentence to be carried out. They were asked “Did you ever consider you could be put to death for committing the crime before you committed it?” To the person not one said it was ever a consideration before committing the crime. So in that aspect it is not a deterrent and for the most part crimes are committed due to emotion and impulse, not with reasoning that comes from a sound mind which would take into account what punishment might result in committing the crime.
The laws, courts and penalties imposed are more a deterrent to those who do not need a deterrent. They are not prone to or having those circumstance that would make committing a crime a reasonable thing to do for them.
So what is the reasoning for a society to put someone to death for having committed a crime of any degree?
An explanation that I have heard came from a reporter who though she was against the death penalty witnessed an execution. She described the actual execution as being rather simple and not appearing to be unduly painful. A needle put in the arm of the condemned, the injection of drugs that seemed to just make the man go to sleep. The condemned simply nodded off and it was over except for the reality being he was now dead. Her explanation was, that is was the most extreme example a society has to show that certain crimes will not be tolerated by the society.
Now of course the real deterrent is that this one person shall never again commit the crime or any crime that they received the death penalty for. Once they have died they can never do anything again.
But once they have been put to death there is no chance of redemption and for the most part both humans and society want to believe that there is always a chance of redemption. We all make mistakes and never believe we should be damned for eternity for a mistake.
Else then why not have the death penalty for any crime?
“Penitentiary” a place for dong penance is the meaning of having a prison and locking someone up. Though the reality is that a prison is a walled barrier, that keeps insanity from the sane. I was once told that the cure for crime is time, a man spends so much of his life locked up he gets too old to do crime. Prison is a young man’s game!
The kinds of murders are as varied as the reasons they have committed murder. There are the incidental murders, those that have killed not because that was their intent, but simply the occurrence ended in the taking of another’s life. At least three of those I have met that were charged with first-degree murder believed it was in self-defense. They took a life because they were of the belief that if they had not then the person would have killed them. Another I have met was so premeditated that he was actually charged with five counts of murder for killing one person. He went to kill the person, decided to just rob the man and then left only to come back a second time to beat the man unconscious. Then left again and came back with the intent of just killing his victim.
For some there is the reasonable possibility of redemption and penance. So are there those who there is no reasonable possibility of redemption and or penance? The Carr brothers and BTK come to mind, but the answer is yes that there are some who no matter how long or how much treatment they would receive can not be reformed or cured.
So why not just lock them up forever? Out of sight and out of mind!
The only thing accomplished by that is to make a pretense of civility in an otherwise less then civil society. The human being is one of the most adaptable creatures on Earth that is demonstrated by the sheer wide spread of the human animal.
Likewise with those imprisoned for life, they adapt and have a life. One where they have many of the same conditions they had on the outside. The Carrs are in a world where they are the king and the norm among their fellow beings. Still deadly and still unpunished for their crime in a real sense. AND, still surrounded by other human beings so they can still inflect their pain and suffering.
I am torn about this subject; I met someone that would on the face of it be subject to being put to death after being convicted of killing a police officer. I believe to the core of my being that he was not guilty and a great injustice was knowingly done by the system. I was not alone in this, the U.S. Marshall’s office also concluded that the State had convicted the wrong man and knows so. And that the State knew who the guilty is… I have no doubt that if at the time the death penalty had not been deemed to be unconstitutional the State of Kansas would have murdered him.