"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Friday, March 11, 2016

Rendering Offenders Harmless, Part 45

Escaped murderer is killed by the mother of a family, including a 5 year old child, he had taken hostage with a bloody knife.

Incarceration did not keep this violent man from violating other people.  We do not possess adequate means to render some, probably most, violent offenders harmless to themselves, prison staff, and the public.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rendering Offenders Harmless, Part 44

Three inmates escaped from a Southern California maximum-security jail by cutting through half-inch steel bars and rappelling from the roof by a makeshift rope, authorities said Saturday as they continued hunting for the men, who include an alleged killer.
[...]
 The inmates include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who had been held on a $1 million bond since October 2013 on charges of murder, attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling. His case is believed to be gang-related.
Hossein Nayeri, 37, had been held without bond since September 2014 on charges of kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary. Nayeri and three other men are accused of kidnapping a California marijuana dispensary owner in 2012. They drove the dispensary owner to a desert spot where they believed he had hidden money and then cut off his penis, authorities said.
After the crime, Nayeri fled the U.S. to his native Iran, where he remained for several months. He was arrested in Prague in November 2014 while changing flights from Iran to Spain to visit family.
The third escaped inmate, 43-year-old Bac Duong, was being held without bond since last month on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and other charges.
Nice bunch.  I hope none of the American bishops in their cushy residences have to come face to face with one of these savages.  But some poorly paid schlep in blue will have to do the job, and risk his life in the process, something our clerical elites cannot seem to notice in their rush to be kind to the vicious predators our cops and prison workers have to deal with.

There is no reliable way to guarantee society's safety from violent criminals.  Prison is, at best, a place where we can hope to restrain them for a time.  Religious fantasies to the contrary, many violent offenders are not deterred, controlled, or rendered harmless by mere incarceration.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Death Penalty Silliness

On Shea's blog, another attack on Sacred Tradition and a confusing conflation of arguments.  The first thing bothering Shea this time is that death penalty proponents supposedly place too much weight on the words of Dismas, the Good Thief, related in this passage from Luke 23:
And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. 
Now, I don't know anyone who hangs their hat on this passage alone, or even as a mainstay of the obvious and overwhelming approval of the death penalty in Scripture.  It is, however, one more place in Sacred Scripture where the death penalty is either merely assumed to be moral or expressly stated to be so.

It's significant, if not decisive, that St. Luke added this detail, and did not record any rebuke of Our Lord to the Thief's claim that the two criminals were being justly executed.  In fact, the Lord right after the Thief's statement assures him of Paradise.

And after all, when God Himself says in Genesis,
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image 
it's pretty clear that He approves of the death penalty precisely because of the inherent dignity of man (almost the direct opposite conclusion drawn by our contemporary clerical class, which argues, against Scripture, that the dignity of man means that the death penalty is immoral).

 And while Shea smears those who cite this passage of Scripture in Genesis as "quot[ing] Scripture like a fundamentalist," he may not realize that he is smearing folks like Cardinal Avery Dulles, not a noted fundamentalist as far as I know, and a man whose education, erudition, and judgment I certainly find more convincing than Shea's.

I've laid out the strong Scriptual basis for the death penalty here in summary fashion;  and Shea doesn't really deny it, in fact he has tacitly conceded that there is no Biblical basis for his abolitionism.  And Catholic Sacred Tradition is absolutely unambiguous about the morality of the death penalty in Natural Law, in Scripture, and in Tradition.  This can't be emphasized enough, because charlatans like Shea are devoted to making us forget about anything prior to 1969.

Hell, Shea doesn't want people to remember anything prior to 2011 apparently, because in the distant past, i.e., four years ago, the same author, so far from arguing that the "Catholic" position was abolition, wrote a defense of the limited use of the death penalty versus the supposed "death penalty maximalists" who he excoriated.  In that article, he clearly laid out the current teaching and some of the Tradition of the Church, which is that the death penalty is morally admissible, though it should be used rarely, if at all these days.  As he well put it, "with the death penalty, as the Catechism makes clear, the Church has always recognized that Caesar may use the sword to punish serious crime."

But now Shea wants us to believe that even the limited use of the death penalty which was Magisterial four years ago is moot, because of "the call of the last three popes to abolish it."

It must indeed be difficult to shore up one's positions to keep up with the constantly shifting sands of the fickle ecclesiastics whose notions about hot button political topics like the death penalty and "global warming" are always in flux depending on their national, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.  I would recommend avoiding getting bogged down in these constantly shifting sands by standing firmly on the revealed rock of the perennial Magisterium.

In the same confused post, Shea also resorts to his old tactic of conflating the just and measured use of the death penalty as it is practiced in the Christian West, with the horrible excesses and murderous injustice of Islamic dominated regions, as though the due process, years of appeals, and extremely limited use of the death penalty in this country could be comparable to the wanton, reckless, and arbitrary use of barbaric methods of death imposed by the Muslims.

It's the logical fallacy of association and the bottom of the barrel resort for those who lack rational arguments.  In short, it's a cheap huckster's ploy and a demagogic device.  It's a losing argument's last resort.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Virginia Executes Rapist/Killer


Virginia just executed a serial killer:
The El Salvador native was sentenced to death in Virginia in 2010 for the murder of a young couple more than two decades earlier. Rachael Raver and her boyfriend, Warren Fulton III, both 22, were found shot to death in a wooded area a few days after being seen at a Washington, D.C., nightspot.
Prieto was on death row in California at the time for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl and was linked to the Virginia slayings through DNA evidence. California officials agreed to send him to Virginia on the rationale that it was more likely to carry out the execution.
He has been connected to as many as six other killings in California and Virginia, authorities have said, but he was never prosecuted because he had already been sentenced to death.
As a Wa Po reporter observed about the execution: "We watched what appeared to be an utterly painless death for a man who brutally killed nine people and devastated nine families," It astounds me that any who claim to value life would want the walking piece of garbage who committed these crimes to be spared.

Some of his victims, may they rest in peace (photos from WaPo article):

Rachel Raver
Stacy Siegrist, 19 when abducted, raped, and killed by Prieto



Yvett Woodruff, 15 when raped and killed by Prieto
Left, Warren Fulton, III, 22 when killed by Prieto, and Tina Jefferson, 24 when raped and shot to death by Prieto

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Justice in Georgia

The State of Georgia executed a vile murderer yesterday, Kelly Gissandaner, who plotted and conspired the brutal murder of her husband.

Certain Leftist Christians  ignore or distort the perennial and positive judgment of the Church on the morality of capital punishment (up to and including the latest official Catechism), and believe that a subjective profession of Christian faith immunizes a criminal from a lawful sentence being carried out by the state.  The natural virtue of Justice vindicates the value of human life by imposing the ultimate punishment for those who dare in their arrogance and evil to take upon themselves, as it were, the power of God in deciding when another human being dies.

The Christian Left ignores that one purpose of the very existence of the state is to secure justice for its citizens.  Whether a condemned murderer sings "Amazing Grace" or becomes the most elevated saint in history is utterly irrelevant to this duty of the state to vindicate Justice by imposing a congruent penalty for crimes.  And for the horrific, inhuman crime of murder, only one penalty is possible to address the moral dis-equilibrium that crime causes.

The exercise of this virtue of Justice exists totally independent of and apart from the salutary effect of specific and general deterrence that consistent recourse to the death penalty generates; and totally apart from the worthy goal of protecting society (including prison staff and other inmates).

Moreover, the Christian Left's position is incoherent:  on a practical level, who could reasonably suggest that the state is competent to decide if an inmate had sufficiently "repented" or become "holy" enough to escape their sentence?  And if this did become a rule, one can imagine how many wondrous death row conversions would suddenly occur.  Individuals can afford to be liberal and even gullible about such things, no harm done by assuming the best.  Governments, however, have a responsibility to society to carry out the law and justice, not to become arbiters of the genuineness of a claimed conversion.

Rather than wringing their hands for the just and salutary execution of a murderer, rather than confusing private "blood vengeance" for public and societal Justice carried out pursuant to due legal process and judicial review, one would hope (in vain!) for at least a passing mention of the poor victim of this horrible crime.  His name was Douglas Gissander, and he was struck in the head and repeatedly stabbed in the neck by his wife's lover at her instigation, so she could collect life insurance money and be with her co-killer.
Forgotten by Some, not by All
As his family stated,
Doug is the true victim of this pre-meditated and heinous crime. We, along with our friends and supporters and our faith, will continue fighting for Doug until he gets the justice he deserves no matter how long it takes.
May this family have some peace and satisfaction knowing that human justice has finally been carried out.



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rendering Offenders Harmless, Part 43

Violent Canadian inmate escapes from prison; "Spagnola has served time in the past for manslaughter and assault and is considered a high risk to reoffend."  Do tell.

But no worries!  Our bishops have assured us that  “Society can protect itself in ways other than the use of the death penalty.”  We eagerly await their guidance as to what these "ways" are so that we can implement them soon, because what we're doing now to protect society is clearly not working.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Rendering Offenders Harmless, Part 42

It's been a busy season for murderers breaking out of the prisons that supposedly render them harmless so we have no need of the death penalty anymore.

In the latest, which received little media coverage because of the more spectacular New York prison break, a convicted killer's girlfriend on the prison staff helped him escape from a North Carolina prison.

Thankfully this escaped killer was caught without incident.

Rendering Offenders Harmless, Part 41

Two convicted murderers escape from high security Clinton prison in Dannemora in upstate New York.  They planned to kill the husband of a prison worker who aided their escape.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo boasted that this prison was the harshest in the state, from which no one had escaped in 100 years.
I wonder if any bishops would care to meet these two in a dark alley?

Martin Horn, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction and a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that "Clinton is as secure a prison as you'll find anywhere in the United States.  If it can happen at Clinton, it can happen anywhere."

Indeed.

[Wiki, by the way, has a not-exhaustive list of notable prison breaks over the years.]

Parole, Rising From the Grave

It seems our Governor here in Virginia wants to resurrect parole,  which was wisely abolished 30 years ago.

So despite what a sentencing judge or jury, having heard all the facts and evidence of the case, and the facts and evidence in mitigation of sentencing, would be supplanted by an appointed board.  Presumably like before, a jury would not be told about the possibility of parole when fixing a sentence.

Yet another example of why, despite the beliefs of the bishops of Virginia and others, mere incarceration cannot to a moral certitude protect society from violent offenders, who, under a parole system, could be released on an unsuspecting public.