"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, December 14, 2010

Sprung Murderer Victimizes Again

From the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch:
A man who spent 18 years on Death Row for killing a Columbus auxiliary police officer is back in prison for robbing a woman in Franklinton.
Thomas Anderson, 57, is at the London Correctional Institution serving a five-year sentence imposed in May by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Julie M. Lynch.
Anderson pleaded guilty to one count of robbery for punching a woman who confronted him for taking a purse and cell phone from her car at W. Rich Street and S. Central Avenue on Oct. 19, 2009.
It was the seventh felony charge filed against him since his release from a life sentence in 1988.
Anderson was 17 when he was sentenced to die in the electric chair in 1970 for the murder of auxiliary Sgt. Lawrence V. Kipfinger during a robbery at a North Side convenience store. In 1972, the Ohio Supreme Court changed the sentence to life in prison, making Anderson eligible for parole.
Another murderer who would not be victimizing citizens again if Ohio had meted out the punishment that fit his crime of murdering a police officer.

1 comment:

Art Deco said...

I think your problem here is not the absence of a capital sentence. The perpetrator committed a discrete homicide of an off-duty cop in civilian dress. The perpetrator was also 17 at the time. Unless you are going to argue for a nearly automatic death sentence for murder (or perhaps just for felony murder?), that would not have been an appropriate penalty.

Look at the other elements of the courts at work. Even though he was convicted at trial for the murder, he was paroled after just 18 years of a 'life' sentence. Then he was given very common-and-garden sentences for three subsequent violent felonies. The sentencing practices incorporated within the Ohio penal code and the culture of the judiciary do not seem to take account of previous history.

Here is a suggestion:

1. Save the capital sentence for multi-victim homicides or for homicides with a horrifying array of coincident crimes. (The Connecticut case in the news lately had both elements).

2. Make use of trial judges to rule on questions of law. Have discrete sentences and sentencing formulae specified in the statute.

3. Consider someone for parole when they have completed 7/11 ths of their pronounced sentence, and then annually thereafter.

4. Instead of dedicated parole boards, have wardens compile dossiers, remove the identifying information on them, and forward them to parole juries convened just to read up and pronounce upon one specific case. You might derive the juries from prison system employees at institutions other than the one where the convict in question is housed. Instead of canned expressions of remorse or participation in social work programs, have them just consider whether the convict respected the rules of the institution.