Monday, November 28, 2005

Macabre Milestone

Today’s as good a day as any to reexamine where you stand on capital punishment.

Since the Supreme Court began allowing states to execute prisoners again in 1976, the U.S. has put 997 inmates to death. This week, if all goes according to plan, we’ll see the deaths of the 998th, 999th, and 1,000th prisoners.

I don’t want to rehash all the same old arguments on the subject. But I do think it bears repeating that in the past 32 years, 120 prisoners have been proved innocent and released from death row. Most of those releases have only come in the past 15 years or so, since DNA evidence has been more easily examined. Mistakes are made. So, I think everyone needs to assume that some innocent people have probably been counted in the number of deaths. I guess I just am not the sort of person who thinks it’s ok for one or two innocent folks to die for the greater good. I like Immanuel Kant.

Never act in such a way as to treat people merely as a means to an end, but rather treat them as ends in themselves.”

But even with this landmark 1,000 execution looming, most of the recent death penalty attention is focused on Stanley “Tookie” Williams out in California. The co-founder of the Crips gang is slated to die on December 13th, but Governor Schwarzenegger has agreed to a clemency hearing. (A celebrity politician meeting with a celebrity criminal….there’s a bad joke there somewhere, but I’m not touching it.) Don’t get me wrong….I hope he IS granted clemency. I’m 100% against the death penalty. However, Schwarzenegger hasn’t granted clemency for any others thus far…so if he does in this case, I have to wonder if the celebrities alone are to thank for it And I haven’t jumped on that star-studdedTookie’s a Great Guy Now” bandwagon. I just don’t buy the idea that his anti-gang children’s books have saved as many kids as the number of kids’ lives that were destroyed thanks to him. But that’s beside the point. I don’t want to see him executed.

I just wish there was as much outcry over capital punishment in general right now. Don’t forget the other 1,000+ before him, and however many will come after him.


Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

I agree totally. What people forget about the death penalty (especially the supposedly anti-government conservatives) is that it is the ultimate example of Big-Brother, Big Government. The U.S. government has the authority to determine who lives and who dies. Why doesn't that scare the hell out of everyone, let alone the people who support this policy the most?

The death penalty is the most flawed precept of justice in the history of this country, and its history bears that fact in spades. And what purpose does it serve other than to satify our basest sense of revenge? What did we gain from executing Timothy McVeigh? Will the chair stop Andrea Yates from drowning her kids ever again? Maybe we should sentence these people to life and, I don't know, perhaps examine them so that we can learn more about the criminal mind? Maybe then, we wouldn't need a death penalty anymore!

November 28, 2005 12:51 PM  
Blogger wobbleboard said...

Wisconsin is one of the few states without any form of the death penalty. It's also one of the safest (according to a ranking that came out last week, seven of the 25 safest metro areas in the U.S. are in the Dairy State). In fact, by my count, 17 of the 25 safest metro areas are in states that either don't have capital punishment or don't use it. Of the 25 most dangerous metro areas, 22 are in states that HAVE the death penalty. How's that for a deterrant?

I also applaud you for not jumping on the Tookie bandwagon. This is beginning to annoy me, a la Mumia (who, to my knowledge, has never denied that he killed a police officer).

November 28, 2005 3:00 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I'm glad you guys agree! and I'm glad I'm from Wisconsin. Yes, yes I am.

November 29, 2005 11:42 AM  

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