Life imprisonment is a poor, immoral substitute for the death penalty. Such a plan heaps additional punishment upon victims by insisting that they pay for the living expenses, the education expenses, the recreation expenses, the medical expenses of the man who killed their kin. Such a plan is in fact socialism on behalf of butchers.
But even worse, life imprisonment unnecessarily puts at risk prison guards, lesser criminals, survivors, jurists, judges, lawyers, witnesses, family members, little children ... everyone.
Face it, murderers have been known to kill in prison, order a hit on a civilian while in prison, and kill again once they get out of prison. That's why the average murderer on death row has killed three people before finally being put to death.
The legitimate role of government involves the protection of life, liberty and property. Just as the role of the government is to raise an armed force and rain down deadly force upon a bloodthirsty invading army, so also the government is duty bound to inflict death upon the man who chooses to slaughter fellow citizens in their own backyards.
Few, if any, object to the use of deadly force against an invading army. Yet those invading soldiers, ordered to fight and likely whipped up by propaganda to go into battle, are far less deserving of death than the assailant who has been proven guilty and convicted in a court of law, by a jury of his peers, of shedding the innocent blood of his neighbor – and this of his own free will.
Yet we do and must condone war in such situations. Governments must protect life. This is no less true regarding individual life.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says he supports using the death penalty as punishment for leaders of drug cartels who bring drugs into America.
Gingrich made the comments when asked in an interview with Yahoo! News if he still stands by a bill he introduced in Congress in 1996 allowing those convicted of smuggling drugs to be put to death.
“I think if you are, for example, the leader of a cartel, sure,” Gingrich told reporter Chris Moody. “Look at the level of violence and the level of violence that they’ve done to society.”
Third, conservatives love the idea of limited government. And the conservatives of the Republican Party love to berate liberals for their abuse of their big governments. But, consider the fact that the death penalty is a tremendous power, one which lends itself to being abused. What do I mean?
Answer me this. Who pursues the death penalty? The answer is the prosecution. Of course the prosecutor works for the government and in many cases is elected. They are politicians who would like to advance. Remember Perry’s blood thirsty crowd? People love to get “tough” on crime.
During last night's debate, Perry was asked if he "struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any of those [executed] might have been innocent." He responded: "No, Sir. I've never struggled with that at all."
Given how difficult it is to apply the death penalty, and given how infrequently this punishment is meted out, I think Perry's response was entirely justified.
"The state of Texas," he explained, "has a very thoughtful [and] very clear process in place. When someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing. They go through an appellate process; they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that's required."
(And, he might have added, DNA evidence also is now used to ensure that innocent defendants aren't executed.)
The so-called "humane" ways of execution do not improve the process. The rituals that surround the death penalty, whether of the "placing of the needle" or strapping into a chair or clamping into a gas-proof chamber or ascending a gallows, are ghastly, all of them, and should not see the light of civilization.
However, if it is likely that innocent lives are saved by executing (not just convicting) cold-blooded murderers, then Connecticut leaders need to consider the ramifications of abolishing the death penalty.
I believe that Professor John McAdams from Marquette University makes a strong case on this point: "If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of ... innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former" (American Bar Association).
Then, a few years after we left office, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin died. His obituary highlighted his writings on "the seamless garment of life," in which he argued that one can't be simultaneously anti-abortion and pro-euthanasia, a big issue at the time of his death. It was an epiphany of sorts for me, as I suddenly saw the moral inconsistency of my pro-death-penalty stance: Pro-life means pro-life in all things, not just abortion. To me, that meant I couldn't be pro-life and pro-death penalty anymore. I can respect those who might come to a different conclusion; reasonable people can disagree when it comes to a question like this. But I decided to stop supporting the death penalty.
Even Romney conceded the possibility of human fallibility during a public hearing on the measure.
"A 100 percent guarantee? I don't think there's such a thing in life. Except perhaps death — for all of us," Romney said, although he described the proposal "as foolproof a death penalty as exists."
Romney decided to tackle that skepticism by coming up with what he said would be a "gold standard for the death penalty in the modern scientific age."
In trying to set a new and higher bar, Romney also was chasing two political goals.
The first was to fulfill a promise, made during his 2002 run for governor, to try to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts, then one of a dozen states that had banned the punishment. The second was to burnish his conservative resume as he looked ahead to 2008 and his first run for president.