Monday, March 8, 2010

To live or die.

I haven't written a rather serious post with lots of political opinions in a while.  So her it goes.

There is a highly watched, very disturbing local crime story currently taking place in my city.  It is in the courts now and on the news and in the paper constantly.  You can read about it here.  The jury was picked last week.  At that time, the man had not pleaded guilty to anything, but his attorney said something along the lines of his goal on this case "was NOT to get a not guilty verdict for his client, but to try to get life in prison and not the death penalty."  The man pleaded guilty to two of the murders.  He is entering a "not guilty" plea to the other two to try to avoid the death penalty. (On a side note, how can you enter a "not guilty" plea to something you've confessed to?  Isn't that equivalent to perjury?)  He did, however, confess to all four murders.  The defendent has been given a makeover - new hairstyle, glasses, suit and tie.  He changes into the clothes each morning and out of them each evening and back into his orange jumpsuit.  His attorney is trying to make him appear more "human."  The courts consider him such a security risk that he is shackled when going to and from court, he wears an electronic stun belt during the trial, glass toppings were removed from desk tops for fear he would break them and use a shard of glass to hurt someone or himself, he is not allowed to have a pen or pencil so they gave him crayons to take notes with.

I have always wanted to sit on a jury.  I have never been called for jury duty.  Oddly enough, I have friends who have served multiple times.  I have also always said I hope I don't ever have to be involved in a death penalty case.  I am not a strong proponent for the death penalty.  However, I also don't ever want it removed as an option for punishment.  But I would not want to be one deciding if another person should live or die.  The other night on the news they said the jurors were being taken to all of the crime scenes.  Not that there is any evidence left, but they wanted the jurors to see where these girls and women had died.  At that point, I told my husband, "I don't think I could be on that jury."

If these teenagers or women were my daughter or mother or sister or best friend, I might feel differently about the death penalty, but I'm not sure.  I would imagine sometimes the surviving loved ones get comfort from the death penalty, while other families and loved ones may want to see the criminal rot in prison.  Once a defendant is found guilty, maybe the families should decide what the punishment is.  They could be given a list of options, up to and including death in the manner which their loved one was murdered.  That sounds so very cruel, but it does seem fair and pay backs are hell, right?  They can select whichever punishment brings them the most peace.

If it was your loved one, do you know what punishment you would choose?  I hope I am NEVER in a situation where I would need to make that decision.

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