December 16, 2006

Not even the same coin...

I just finished reading two articles in today's New York Times. At first it feels like they could be considered two sides of the same coin, but they're not. One story is about the treatment of people convicted of nothing, the other about convicted criminals. Yet, two sides of our humanity are on display.

The first article is about the detainees at Guantanamo and the new security crackdown there. Remember, these detainees have been convicted of NOTHING. That means nothing to the commander at Guantanamo who has appointed himself judge and jury:

The commander of the Guantanamo task force, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said the tougher approach also reflected the changing nature of the prison population, and his conviction that all of those now held here are dangerous men. “They’re all terrorists; they’re all enemy combatants,” Admiral Harris said in an interview.

He added, “I don’t think there is such a thing as a medium-security terrorist.”
And then I read this heartening article:
Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday suspended all executions in Florida, citing a troubled execution on Wednesday and appointing a commission to consider the humanity and constitutionality of lethal injections.

Hours later, a federal judge ruled that the lethal injection system in California violated the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

I realize that the death penalty will probably be brought back in both these states, especially California, where all they have done is order the state to find a "nicer" way to execute convicted murderers. The Florida commission is charged with looking not only at the constitutionality of lethal injections, but the humanity of them as well. I have higher hopes for this approach.

I oppose the death penalty because mistakes are (and have been) made and how do you go back if you have made one? I also oppose the death penalty because, and this is where I show a bit of a mean streak, I feel that death is an easy out for those who are truly guilty of heinous crimes. I think they should be locked up until the end of their natural lives with the basics of three meals and a cot. No frills, no parole, just time, lots of empty time, stretching out before them. Why should they escape prison? The families of those they have murdered are given no such luxury. They will grieve their loss until their dying day.

1 comment:

Not Your Mama said...

Those are all good reasons. I oppose it mainly for two.

1. Statistical fact: it does not reduce violent crime, there is in fact a direct correlation between liberal usage of the death penalty and an INCREASE in violent crime.

2. More philosophical but I have serious reservations about granting any governmental body or appointed "committee of persons" the power to take human life. I believe it sets a dangerous precedent.