death or dishonor?

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Tuesday, 16 May 2006

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.

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5 Responses to “death or dishonor?”

  1. Sharon Says:

    As someone who has been the victim of a brutal crime(s), I still have the sense to know the difference between justice and revenge. The death penalty in ALL cases is revenge, even in the most hidious of crimes. If someone deserves a severe punishment, then life in prison without a chance for parole is in order. To paraphrase Dr. MLK:
    I am not so naive as to believe we can stop murder. We can, however, quit making it legal.

  2. brittney Says:

    “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.”

    Bravo, sir. I am sickened to hear people joke, even hope, that prisoners are raped behind bars. No one–and I mean absolutely no one–deserves to be raped. I’m with you a hundred percent here.

    Some links:
    http://www.spr.org/ Stop Prison Rape
    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/08/23/prisons/ Rape as Discipline
    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/report.html Stats and Facts
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_rape Wiki entry

  3. Greg Cain Says:

    Greg Cain, candidate for the 24th District State House of Representatives, reaffirmed his support for the death penalty and said he is disappointed in Gov. Phil Bredesen, who granted convicted killer Sedley Alley a “15-day” reprieve which Cain said “may last months, years or might never occur.”

    Alley was within hours of execution, scheduled for today at 1 a.m.

    Cain said, “Bredesen’s delay was another example of an out of touch politician making Suzanne Marie Collins and her family a victim once again.

    “Why do we hear so much about the killers and so little about the victims and their loved ones who are left behind to pick up the pieces?”

    He said Ms. Collins, a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps, “was brutalized by Alley, and her family deserves justice for her murder which occurred over 20 years ago. Justice delayed, is justice denied, Gov. Bredesen.”

    He added, “Attorney General Summers has pointed out, and I agree, two courts of competent jurisdiction have already decided DNA testing would be worthless in this case. Gov. Bredesen knew in advance that he was going to make this decision, but delayed announcing this to the last possible minute. It is time someone steps forward and points out that we have a governor in this state that is soft on crime.”

    Cain said the death penalty “should be a rare occurrence, reserved for
    those who commit the most heinous crimes. This crime was particularly
    monstrous and the victim suffered tremendously. Citizens should also be reminded that convicted cop-killer Philip Workman is still alive because Gov. Bredesen granted Workman a stay of execution. Three years later, Workman remains on death row and doe not have an execution date set. Can we expect the same for Mr. Alley?

    “I do not think this Governor has the will to carry out the death penalty handed out by our judicial system, and, unfortunately, does not side with the victim. The fact that the victims in both of these cases were well-respected, one serving as a police officer and the other in the Armed Forces, makes this situation even more inexcusable.

    “We need leadership in Nashville to fight for victims of crime, not the criminals. I will fight, and I ask my fellow Republicans and conservative Democrats to join me in this effort.”

    Greg Cain is a candidate for the 24th District seat being vacated by
    Rep. Dewayne Bunch.

  4. Sailorcurt Says:

    The death penalty in ALL cases is revenge, even in the most hidious of crimes. If someone deserves a severe punishment, then life in prison without a chance for parole is in order.

    Simply not true.

    This is (of course) strictly an opinion, just as your sentiment was: Revenge would be subjecting the criminal to the same fate (or a worse fate) than the victim of the crime.

    People who commit the most heinous crimes have demonstrated themselves to be incapable of civilized interaction in society. Similarly to animals that attack without provocation, humanely putting them down is not “revenge”, neither is it “punishment”, it is simply removing from society a danger to it.

    There is no guarantee that a person sentenced to “life without the possibility of parole” won’t escape, be pardoned or find some other means of returning to society.

    Furthermore, prison itself is a society. Prisoners who have no hope of ever seeing freedom again are often the perpetrators of the heinous acts that occur in the prison system. What are you going to do to them…lock them up and throw away the key? You already did. There are no consequenses to their actions, therefore, they are unrestrained in their vicious behavior.

    The entire premise of this post is that civilized treatment is a civil right even in prison. The only way to guarantee that is to eliminate from society, either free society or prison society, those that have demonstrated the inability to conform to civilized behavior.

    Putting down the perpetrators of heinous crimes in a humane manner is not revenge or punishment. It is simply the elimination of a threat to society just like putting down a vicious dog.

  5. rightwingprof Says:

    Second in forty years? Wow, who’d'a thunk Indiana executes more prisoners than Tennessee …