Sunday, April 4, 2010

My thoughts on capital punishment

(The following blog was originally posted in my Notes of my Facebook profile on Sunday, October 4, 2009.)

This note is in response to a recent column (also available via Facebook) by Lima columnist Thomas J. Lucente, Jr.

In his column, he lays out his case for ending the death penalty. Lucente makes valid points about the risk of executing innocent people. I have no doubt it has happened many times in America's past and I pray it never happens again.

He also points to the failed execution attempt last month of Romell Broom, whose lack of viable veins for insertion of intravenous needles led to multiple, unsuccessful poke attempts in the effort to carry his sentence of death by lethal injection. The argument there centers on the potential cruelty involved with carrying out executions.

Like Lucente, my perspective on the death penalty has been evolving as well over the years. But, I cannot support its complete abolition.

I do not advocate or believe in execution for the sake of justice. To say a criminal "deserves to die" in essence makes those who pass judgment over him or her no different than the convicts themselves: wasn't that allegedly their reasoning when ending another human life?

But, I do believe there are individuals out there who are truly too dangerous to be allowed to continue living. An example of that is William Earl Lynd, who was executed in Georgia in May '08. In the example of Lynd, I'm referring to individuals whose extreme lack of regard for human life combined with the personal precedent of murder (like Lynd, who murdered a second woman in Ohio as easily as he had his girfriend) demonstrate they will kill again.

I believe these individuals are a danger not only to society in terms of the threat of escape, but also an equal danger to those corrections officers who would be tasked with watching them and the other inmates with whom they are incarcerated.

On that point, I say why should someone who has been convicted of a lesser crime (lesser than first-degree murder, let me be clear) be forced to endure the same risks by having to serve their sentences while in the same prison population holding such individuals as Lynd?

I do agree that States which retain the death penalty too freely hand down such sentences. There are cases, though, when capital punishment truly is a matter of self defense for society.

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