"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

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Next on the Agenda for the Crim Lobby

It's no secret that a concerted war has been waged against the death penalty in this country for the past 30-plus years. A prominent argument in that war routinely used by the criminals' lobby (that odd mix of political leftists, libertarians, the media, and religious leftists) has been that death is unecessary since the option exists of life without parole (LWOP) in most states. We need not execute the perpetrators of the most heinous murders, when we can effectively incapacitate them with LWOP (an argument these examples debunks).

I've mentioned before that the next frontier for the criminal lobby now that extremely few executions occur is to characterize LWOP itself as cruel and unusual. This is the way it works: take the worst examples you can find of LWOP sentences, such as this one detailed at Sentencing Law and Policy (13-year old sentenced to LWOP for raping elderly victim), appeal to public sympathy and/or sense of moral offense (usually detached from any mention of the offender's actual crimes) and use it as a cudgel with which to assault the entire notion of LWOP. You can fill in the rest: "LWOP is too indiscrimate; LWOP doesn't allow for rewarding rehabilitation; LWOP is racist; LWOP is imposed unevenly in jurisdictions within a state; judges should be allowed to use their discretion, which LWOP negates;" and so forth.

And so, that very sentencing choice the criminal lobby used to argue that the death penalty is unecessary itself will be the next thing to fall, but of course there will be no revisiting of the death penalty should LWOP go by the wayside as "cruel and unusual."

The goal of many among the anti-death penalty folks can be seen, then, as not so much to stop executions (though they surely seek these intermediate goals); it's to ensure that criminals are incarcerated for as little time as possible.

2 comments:

Ronsonic said...

Opponents of the death penalty ask if you would be willing to personally pull the switch.

I ask them if they are more willing to personally oversee the lifelong imprisonment, decay and deterioration of that man. If they lie, I recommend them the Richard Speck prison video. That is LWOPP.

We all die somehow, some time. It is natural that this life must end. Being caged for decades is not natural.

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