“Well your honor I do believe I’d be better off dead
So if you can take a man’s life for the thoughts that’s in his head
Then sit back in that chair and think it over judge one more time
And let `em shave off my hair and put me on that killin’ line”
Bruce Springsteen – “Johnny 99” – 1982 – from the album “Nebraska”
The death penalty, the ultimate punishment for a crime. To many, it is a thoroughly fitting punishment for murder. Many more are clamoring for new laws to shorten or eliminate some of the appeal process. There are some that want capital punishment to be extended to other crimes, beyond murder.
Vengeance. Deterrence. The cost of housing prisoners. Prison isn’t bad enough. Parole. Escape possibilities. Many, many more.
There are numerous reasons for capital punishment.
There are 138 + 8 reasons against it.
Since 1973 there have been 138 people released from Death Row after their innocence was proven. There have been eight men executed despite strong evidence that they were innocent. There have been many executed for crimes that did not fit the punishment.
I do not doubt the guilt of the Carr Brothers, Kleypus and Thurber, and I believe their crimes to be heinous, beyond human understanding. That having been said, I still can’t get past – 138 + 8.
My solution is not unique – life without the possibility of parole in a super-maximum security prison.
In a super-maximum security facility, prisoners are confined to their cells 23 hours a day, with only a single hour for solitary exercise. They receive their meals in their cells. They take two showers per week, alone. They have a radio and a television, but the programming is limited to recreational, educational and religious, and the inmate can’t reach the electronics. Their reading materials and mail are censored and they have no contact with anyone except the guards. No one has ever escaped from a super-maximum security facility in the United States.
Super-max detention has been described by prisoners and prison officials as a “cleaner version of Hell.”
To me, I would opt for death before living like that.
These are my thoughts. What are yours?
William Stephenson Clark