Wednesday, June 17, 2015


There's a debate going on about the rightful, acceptable, socially conscious penalty for murder.  What should be the penalty for unlawfully taking another life?  Many states have varying degrees of homicide, and in my opinion that practice is right and proper.  There are many motivations for homicide.  Ambrose Bierce once famously said that "there are four types of homicide; felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy".  The law recognizes those differences.

In this discussion we are concerned with the felonious types.  Normally, broken down into a set of legal standards from First Degree Murder down to Negligent Homicide.  Generally, in death penalty cases, we are concerned with the most heinous of those homicides and that is where the discussion of the death penalty should be limited.  Stephen Lurie of The New Republic has an article out, entitled; The Deather Penalty is Cruel, But So Is Life Without Parole. In that article, he makes arguments against the death penalty and its problems in current practice in the US.  His arguments are well documented and quote noted authorities in the field of constitutional law and correctional practice.  It's a well-researched article that fails in one respect.  The victim.

Murder, of necessity required a victim, a deceased victim.  More importantly, it ignores those left behind, the loved ones of the murdered.  They are forced to continue living, many times without justice, for justice is the province of the state.  All the while, the legal community in the state begins an interminable appeal process where all the actions of the police, the prosecutors and the lower courts are put under a microscope, to insure that justice is truly being done and the rights of the accused are being recognized.  Lost in all this is the family of the victim who is forced to continue living without the person taken from them.  Children without parents, parents without children, brothers without sisters, they are all left to do the best that they can do while the murderer becomes the focus of journalist, researchers, social do-gooders, and legal experts.

What of the victim?  That is the horrific neglect of the critics.  Where is justice for them?

The simple fact of the matter is that there are a certain number of people in our society who are truly evil.  They are predators who murder and rape, and if set free will continue to prey upon society.  They can never be released safely, but in the discussion of prison conditions we never see the most dangerous addressed.  Those offenders have victims as well, living in abject fear, trying to recover from the crime, trying to live another day without thinking about their physical and emotional wounds.  They deserve justice as well, and any thoughtful discussion should include those victims.  Those discussions seldom do.

Stephen Lurie should be ashamed of his omission.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

That he should be. The victims are lost in the politics of the situation... Sigh