"Perhaps life in prison is worse than the death penalty," is Meredith C. Carroll's column in today's Denver Post.
Violent, scary and suspenseful movies aren't my thing. It's not so much the aggression and gore that get my pulse racing to a miserable degree so much as it's the moments immediately preceding them. The anticipation of ghastly things to come always guts me more than actual guts.
Despite the fact that I am soundly opposed to the death penalty, I was nevertheless remarkably satisfied on Monday when it was revealed as the punishment being sought against accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes.
When Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler announced steadily, "It is my determination and my intention that, in this case, for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death," I felt relief wash over me. While I don't actually believe Holmes will end up dying as a result of lethal injection or some other legally fatal means, the thought of him dreading the ultimate sentence seems wickedly appropriate and makes my lips form into an evil smile similar to the one he offered in his first mug shot as well as each of his subsequent police photos.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Christine M. Flowers writes, "A death penalty, properly applied, helps make society make sense."
WHENEVER the death penalty is debated, you are sure to hear opponents talking about the horrible possibility of an innocent person being killed. While I'd quibble with their numbers (there have been relatively few documented instances of wrongful executions), I'd agree that there is nothing more horrific, unjust or inhuman than a guiltless individual being forced to have his life taken from him.
That reason alone should motivate each state legislature to seek a moratorium where it appears that the system doesn't afford the necessary levels of due process and equal access to competent legal representation. Arbitrary punishments are never acceptable, even though retribution is not a dirty word. After all, in a society that demands the separation of church and state, the Christian ideal of love thy murderous neighbor has no place in the civic sphere. To me, and many who work in the criminal-justice system, the death penalty is a legitimate part of the social contract.
That's why I took great pleasure in the announcement this week that prosecutors in Colorado were going to seek the death penalty for James Holmes, the man who went on a deadly rampage in an Aurora theater last summer and murdered 12 people. Of course, whenever the government tries to execute one of its citizens a serpentine process of controls and protections is triggered, so it's unlikely that Holmes will have a needle in his arm in the near future.
Earlier coverage of the Holmes case begins at the link.