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November 29, 2005

Support For the Anti-Anti-Death Penalty Argument

One of the arguments against the death penalty is that there is always the possibility of executing a wrongly convicted person. I’ll concede that is true, and may have happened at different times. But what is the cost – in innocent lives – of not executing murderers?

Opponents of capital punishment give us names of innocents who would have been killed by the state had their convictions stood and they been actually executed, and a few executed convicts whom they believe might have been innocent. But proponents can name men and women who really were -- not might have been -- murdered by convicted murderers while in prison. The murdered include prison guards, fellow inmates, and innocent men and women outside of prison.

In 1974, Clarence Ray Allen ordered a 17-year-old young woman, Mary Sue Kitts, murdered because she knew of Allen's involvement in a Fresno, Calif., store burglary.

After his 1977 trial and conviction, Allen was sentenced to life without parole.
According to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders, "In Folsom State Prison, Allen cooked up a scheme to kill the witnesses who testified against him so that he could appeal his conviction and then be freed because any witnesses were dead -- or scared into silence." As a result, three more innocent people were murdered -- Bryon Schletewitz, 27, Josephine Rocha, 17, and Douglas White, 18.

This time, a jury sentenced Allen to death, the only death sentence ever handed down by a Glenn County (California) jury. That was in 1982.

Had Ray been executed his three later victims would likely still be alive today. Instead, the creature who coldly initiated their deaths is still alive – his execution repeatedly postponed by a legal system more concerned about possible violations of his rights than about justice for his victims and their families.

Similarly, there is the horrific case of Jack Abbot, freed a killer freed from prison at the behest of the celebrity effete.

Perhaps the most infamous case of a death penalty opponent directly causing the murder of an innocent is that of novelist Norman Mailer. In 1981, Mailer utilized his influence to obtain parole for a bank robber and murderer named Jack Abbott on the grounds that Abbott was a talented writer.

Six weeks after being paroled, Abbott murdered Richard Adan, a 22-year-old newlywed, aspiring actor and playwright who was waiting tables at his father's restaurant.

Mailer's reaction? "Culture is worth a little risk," he told the press. "I'm willing to gamble with a portion of society to save this man's talent."

In other words, for the sake of “art” and “culture”, Mailer is willing to risk the lives of innocent, unimportant victims, men and women who do not make a significant contribution to the world.

I dread the possibility of a wrongful execution. But it is better that we take such a risk than knowingly allowing a rabid dog to run wild, attacking and killing at will.





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Comments on Support For the Anti-Anti-Death Penalty Argument

I disagree with you. (Though I am not completely opposed to the death penalty, I just think it should be rare and reserved for the worst cases)

1)But if we execute the wrong person than we make it less that we will find the actual guilty party and how many people might that person kill?
2)Also, people have planned and commmitted murders from death row, so the argument doesn't really hold up on that basis eitehr.

|| Posted by Rachel Ann, November 30, 2005 03:19 AM ||

1) But given the relatve rarity of errors, your first point doesn't hold water.

2) Which is why we don't keep them on death row for decades -- the process needs to be streamlined.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, November 30, 2005 04:54 AM ||

1)If the problem is that someone who murders and is not put to death has a greater chance of going on to murder someone else,then we need to execute EVERYONE found guilty of first degree murder. We would also have to come to a set standard for the whole of the country. (I'm trying to find stats on conviction for first degree murder totally compared to those who received the death penalty but can't find it.)

2)Streamline the process and risk even more innocent being executed.

|| Posted by Rachel Ann, November 30, 2005 11:10 AM ||

1) Hey, I'm willing to see every first-degree murderer executed -- live on prime time television, no less. Such folks forfeit their right to life.

2) Don't streamline the process and you make the sentence meaningless.

And if I sound harsh, please understand that today was the funeral of a 18-year-old former student, the brother of a current student, who was murdered over the weekend in a fight over a girl. Even though Adam was a thuggy character, I would be quite glad to flip the switch for the lethal injection of his killer.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, November 30, 2005 04:18 PM ||
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