I heard on the news this morning that Charles Manson, the leader of the infamous "Manson Family" responsible for killing several people in the summer of 1969, was denied parole again, meaning he will remain in jail. Whenever I hear about a situation like this involving a high profile criminal like Manson, I have to ask why.
Not why were they denied parole. Why they were even up on parole in the first place.
I make no bones about the fact that I'm in favor of the death penalty. No matter how you try to spin it, the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment. If anything, it's the only punishment fitting for some crimes. There are some evil people out there, including Manson. What do we gain by keeping such people alive, even if it's behind bars where most likely they won't hurt anyone outside of the prison walls?
Some say we win by not stooping to the killer's level. This is a bad comparsion because we aren't seeking to kill the killer for no reason. When the death penalty is sought, it is to punish those who have committed the most egregious of crimes. It's not meted out on a whim, unlike the killer who acts on his or her emotions or on some snap decision not based on reason.
Some point to the number of people on Death Row who were released after new evidence clearning them was brought to light. These folks love to point out that there could be innocent people on Death Row who would be executed. Ah, but that's not the way our judicial system works. Our system works on the premise that a jury of the accused peers determines if the accused is guilty or not guilty. Innocence doesn't really play into the equation. If an innocent party is found guilty and given the death penalty, that's not the fault of the death penalty. That's the fault of the jury.
Some inject race into the death penalty, claiming that the death penalty is racist because it only seems to be given to African-Americans. Check the crime stats. It seems the majority of people committing violent crimes are African-Americans. It's not racism that's driving that, either; it's THEM. So, if African-Americans are committing a large number of violent crimes, including murder, the law of averages tells us that they will be convicted and sentenced to the death penalty in a higher number.
Allow me to get to the real reason most people object to the death penalty. We don't want to be judgmental to those who deserve to be judged. We know murder is wrong, but we always seem to stop short of punishing the murderer beyond life in prison. If someone kills 4 people at a McDonalds, putting him in prison doesn't make us any better than him because all we're doing is helping him beat the rap. The murderer gets 3 hots and a cot for the rest of his life...while the families of his victims, as well as the rest of the law-abiding citizenry, pay for it. How is that justice?
I'm willing to be persuaded to adopt the anti-death penalty position, but only on one condition. I want those who oppose the death penalty to take in someone on Death Row and have the prisoner stay with the death penalty opponent for a year. The opponent would be ultimately responsible for everything the Death Row inmate would do and would be punished as an accessory to any crime committed.
How many of those death penalty opponents would change their tunes if they had to take in someone like Manson?