December 29, 2001
Crime and Punishment
I support the death penalty. There I said it. I can hear the jaws dropping already. I know many people, including such visible folks, as Bill ORiely do not. Yes I know that statistics show time and again that it does not deter people from committing acts of violent mayhem and murder upon others. In fact I fully accept these stats and actually agree. However I do know one thing to be a fact as well and that is this; the dirtbag who murders a person, any person, will not have a second chance to do that againperiod.
Since we are talking stats at this point, let me point out another one. I has also been shown that repeat offenders commit many crimes. Many a person that has served time has graduated to become better criminals. How many times have we heard on the nightly news or read in daily papers of somebody arrested for some crime only to be found out to have rap sheets as long as my arm? In this writers opinion it has been way to many times.
All right let us move on to the next stat. So it costs more to execute a prisoner than it does house them for life. Well what we dont always hear is that there are so many appeals filed on behalf of or by the convicted murderer. Ok, I am willing and certainly support the right for an appeal. However I would grant one appeal only, or a new trial, if it can be shown that evidence warrants it. One, thats it, uno, thats all period.
I am a reasonable person. I am willing to listen to other ideas. I would favor a life imprisonment setting, as does Mr. ORiely, if it were under the following conditions. Allow me to explain.
I have often expressed the concept that we have a national penal system. It is here that Mr. ORiely and I come into agreement. I have, in the past, suggested, to anyone who would listen, that said system be located in an inhospitable area such as the Aleutian Island chain. There would be little opportunities for escape to say the least. These would be camps, designed, for the harshest of labor that we could imagine. I can think of no suitable punishment that would act as a deterrent than 20 or 30 years of hard labor under such horrid conditions. This would most certainly take the edge off of even the most hardened of criminals. My original concept was for this punishment to be meted out to big time drug dealers, who on a daily basis poison the youth of our nation. Many crimes are drug related: drive-by shootings, gang violence, violent assaults, robberies, muggings, and break-ins etc. grace our headlines each and everyday. Mr. ORiely wishes to extend this system of punishment to murderers, rapists and other violent vermin and thugs that assault us, pray on us and live in our communities. This is most certainly a logical conclusion, considering the above statement that I had already made. To this extension I whole hardily agree.
Dang! I hear the sound of jaws dropping and whining in the distance. Ok is this cruel? You betcha! Inhumane? Uh huh! Why this sounds like a return to the concept of Devils Island! You got it! Go to the head of the class! However consider this: How many of these animals have ever had a thought for the public that they pray upon? Very few show actual remorse, other than the sadness of being caught. My contention as, validated by Mr. ORiely, is that if you show enough videos of these cretins working under such conditions to every school age child in America you will have an extremely powerful deterrent. It will send a clear and simple message. Said message being that if you do this,then this is where you will go. No country club, no cable, no visitation nada! The idea of 3 hots and a cot would definitely take on a whole new meaning.
I am quite sure this would be cost effective as well, as there would be little need for high security fences, where would run to? Less correctional officers would be needed, as well. In fact if done properly, many prison residents could be remotely viewed a la video. My only qualm and this is a small one is that it would be run by the Feds, who are notorious for screwing up anything they get there hands on. Mr. ORiely correctly points out however that such a system if run by the Feds would relieve the states of finding funds to build more prisons to in order to house more criminals. The money could be better used to police the areas of high crime rates and to educate people about the dangers of choosing certain actions that would lead them to a life a crime.
It is here that I wish to address another point. And perhaps I lean a little to the left of center on this one. Horrors! Did I say that? I do favor training and really good supportive job opportunities of the ex-offender once said offender has paid a debt to society. As mentioned earlier repeat offenders commit many crimes. Simply put my ex-convicts are released with little more than a few bucks and nowhere to go. They have little chances for advancement in this world. For many crime, as a way if life is the only life they know or understand. I would support a halfway house setting, which could be funded by the states that have saved money from no longer having to build prisons. Real training, resources and real education would be available to them. All of which would lead to real jobs, and the making of productive citizens.
Sadly though there exists in this country a whole host of do-gooders that mostly oppose such treatment as well, as the death penalty. So it is likely that such ideas as put forth in this column by myself and others, such as Mr. ORiely, will never see the light of day. They still cling to the idea that these vermin are rational and reasonable people. So what are we left with? A penal system that is either forced to execute its most violent of criminals or to house and re-house an ever-increasing population of felons