Last Update: 15 Aug 00
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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Whatever happened to the old axiom "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time"? The reality, of course, is that it seems to be getting more and more difficult to put criminals behind bars. This leads directly to a growing disregard and disrespect for the law. This should hardly be a surprise. Why think twice about committing a crime if you have little reason to fear the consequences?
Today's "prisoner" seems to have little to fear. Many find themselves better off behind bars than they were on the street. Modern prisons seem more like country clubs than the classic notion of "prisons". The average yearly cost of incarcerating a prisoner is greater than the average annual income of a sizable number of American families. While those law-abiding families struggle to get by, many prisoners are getting three square meals a day, free workout and recreational facilities, and don't have to work. A phalanx of liberal attorneys are available to defend the prisoner's "rights" while the victims of that same prisoner's crimes get tossed aside and forgotten. Inmates sentenced to death often spend a decade or more in jail while the appeals process drags on and on and on.
There's more than a little wrong here. First and foremost is the notion that a prisoner has any "rights" that could be violated. "Rights" are the benefits afforded to law-abiding citizens. They are not reasons to avoid paying for one's crimes. As far as I'm concerned, if someone is convicted of a crime and sent to jail, they have *no* rights for the period of their sentence.
Prisoners are supposedly "repaying their debt to society". How can they be doing that if they contribute nothing to that same society while in prison? They need to be put to work. There's an endless number of jobs that they could be doing to benefit society at large. For example, why let trash accumulate all over the landscape just because people don't want to take paying jobs to clean it up? We have an able-bodied workforce currently sitting in prisons. Bring back chain gangs and use *them* to clean up.
We also need to repair our system of "justice". Entirely too many criminals get off for nonsensical reasons such as the infamous "temporary insanity" defense or by claiming some imagined racial injustice.
Allowing someone to get away with murder due to "temporary insanity" is, itself, insane. Ask the victims if they feel better knowing that their killers didn't know what they were doing at the time. Also, any person who can suffer a bout of "temporary insanity" that would cause him to commit murder should be the *first* person to be locked up -- not the last. One wonders how many murders are committed by people who are already planning their "insanity" defense.
Race should not even be an issue whenever someone comes to trial. Either you committed the crime or you did not commit it, pure and simple. Just because you're a green man and were arrested by a purple cop makes no difference. That also doesn't give that same green man the "right" to resist his arrest. The Rodney King case is a prime example of "justice" gone bonkers. How many people remember that the original charges against King were all swept under the rug in the "white cops vs. black motorist" furor? Yet, it should be plainly obvious that King would never have been stopped in the first place had he been obeying the law and never would have been beaten had he not resisted arrest. This, in no way, excuses the actions of the police officers involved, but their actions do not exonerate King, either.
The death penalty is a hot issue and will likely remain one for some time to come. Arguments abound over whether or not such a sentence should be allowable and, if so, how it should be administered. One thing seems clear, however -- the current system doesn't work very well. A death row inmate staying behind bars for over a decade -- at taxpayer expense - while a bunch of sleazeball attorneys drag out a lengthy, and usually worthless, appeals process is a situation that borders on complete lunacy.
Yes, we need the death penalty. A basic rule of justice should be to "make the punishment fit the crime". The most heinous crimes against society should, therefore, be subject to the highest form of punishment. I can't see how anybody can argue against that.
Some worry about "executing the wrong person". It is highly unlikely that any perfect method of identifying criminals will ever be uncovered. However, even our current system virtually ensures that anybody who is convicted of a capital offense is actually the one who committed that offense. In fact, it is far more likely that a guilty person will be acquitted than it is for an innocent person to be convicted. We should be far more concerned with being too lax in judgment than in being too harsh.
Yes, a condemned criminal should have the right to an appeal. However, such appeals should be made on a timely basis and should not be allowed to continue unless new and relevant evidence can be presented.
It is silly to argue that the death penalty is "cruel and inhuman punishment". The convict has been sentenced to *die*. So, he might feel a bit of pain or discomfort in the process? WAA-A-A-AHHH! Think about what the victim(s) must have felt and then tell me how much sympathy you have for the murderer. Now, it's not like the current methods of execution are equivalent to burning at the stake, being hacked into little pieces, or being covered with barbeque sauce and thrown into a pit of hungry lions. In murder cases, I would have little problem with seeing the condemned criminal put to death in much the same way that the victim(s) died, but that is rather unlikely to happen.
How about this idea? Bring back public hangings at sunrise. Let a member of the victim's family pull the lever. Defray expenses by letting people pay for the right to help build the gallows. Have the execution covered on TV with an acid-tongued commentator speaking ill of the condemned criminal. Frontier justice, you say? You bet! It certainly served us well in the past. Perhaps, it's an idea whose time has come again.
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