"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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When "Life" Does Not Always Mean "Life"

Among other reasons why "life imprisonment" is not a sure way to "render offenders harmless" is that there is no way to control for a future legislature modifying life imprisonment.

Case in point:  Louisiana is considering a law to permit parole in certain life imprisonment situations. While ostensibly targeted at non-violent lifers, the stated rationale, "The cost of incarceration is killing us" could just as easily apply to long-term incarceration of violent offenders.

"Life imprisonment" is always subject to the whim of executive pardon or future legislative modification.  Thus, even if it could safeguard society (including other inmates and prison staff), it is not a sure way to render offenders harmless.

H/T: Crime and Consequences.


Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

I don't know what 'non-violent' crimes someone in other states can be given life for, but here in Illinois, that penalty is reserved for henious crime like murder. Perhaps being a legislator should be made a crime that would deserve a life sentence! LOL!

bill bannon said...

Simple math. In the US, 65% of murders end in arrest.
That means life sentences are not protecting society from 35% of murderers on any given day. The catechism dreams that all murderers are caught. In Rio, 14% of murderers are caught and in Guatemala, it is 3%. So in Catholic Guatemala, life sentences are protecting a Catholic family from 3% of murderers on any given day. This is the worst intellectual moment for the Church I can remember in my life time...except for all the fallacious beliefs that festooned the sex abuse tragedy.

Theodore Seeber said...

Bill, it sounds like to me the problem is on the side of enforcement, not punishment. Did I miss something?

I'm against the Death Penalty because I'm an engineer who knows that if you weld a guy into a steel box he's not going to get out without help. And if we trust a jury to sentence a man to life imprisonment, we ought to be able to trust a parole board to find him either rehabilitated or innocent.

Tom McKenna said...

Which confirms my usual practice of striking engineers from my jury panels.