As Tennessee nears what would be only the second execution in over 40 years, much debate has sprung up around the subject.
Coincidentally, news of another alleged crime–perhaps more revolting than even the gruesome murder of Suzanne Collins for which Sedley Alley was convicted–surfaced this week. This crime involves the rape of a one-day-old child.
The juxtaposition of these two crimes provides an interesting case study of the blogosphere. On the one hand you have Alley’s defenders arguing that his death sentence should be reduced to life because DNA evidence might show him to be not guilty. (An aside: if your argument is that he’s not guilty, shouldn’t the “penalty” be freedom?) On the other hand you have some who condone, or even (wink, wink) hope that imprisoned sodomites will mete out justice to child rapists. Interestingly, there seems to be some overlap of these two groups.
I’m sorry, but those who wring their hands over state executions, while laughing at the idea that prison gang bangs are a convict’s just reward, lose their right to claim human rights as a motivating force for their objection to the death penalty.
I’m no bleeding heart, but I happen to believe that in addition to punishment, prison is a place for reform. It better be, or we’d be foolish to ever release the two million Americans currently in prison. Reform, however, can never reasonably occur in a prison system where rape is condoned, or even encouraged.
Even more disheartening is the idea that such an attitude betrays. It says: “Society is powerless to enforce its societal standards; so instead we’ll outsource enforcement to outcasts from society.”
I would think that even most death penalty opponents prefer a strict society that, at least, claims responsibility for the execution of criminals, over a society of cowards who keep their hands “clean” by sending criminals to unsanctioned torture and death at the hands of other prisoners.