"Death Sentence in Case of Fort Hood Shooter Out of Step," is Diann Rust-Tierney's essay at Huffington Post. She is the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
This was the worst shooting on a military base in U.S. history. Some might argue that given the facts, a death sentence was a forgone conclusion ---but they likely would have been wrong: certainly in a civilian context and perhaps even in a military setting as well.
The reality is that the death penalty has become an increasingly isolated practice. After carefully studying the practice, six states in the last six years have repealed their death penalty statutes.
Jurors are returning death sentences in fewer cases and in cases that years ago seemingly would have been slam dunks. Consequently prosecutors are more selective in the cases in which the punishment is sought.
From the perspective of someone who opposes all executions, this is a good thing. However, we all should be troubled by a system of justice that is increasingly arbitrary and unpredictable in meeting out the most fearsome of punishments.
The military on this point is no exception. It is true that military prosecutors seek the death penalty at higher rates than civilian prosecutors. But just as is the case in civilian courts, the rate at which death sentences are sought has declined. Similarly the actual rates of death sentencing is higher than in civilian courts but even still we are talking about only a handful of cases that result in death sentences.
Earlier coverage of the Nidal Hasan case begins at the link.
Additional coverage includes, "Military archbishop opposes death penalty for Fort Hood shooter," by the Catholic News Service, via National Catholic Reporter.
rchbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services said he opposes capital punishment for Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was sentenced to death Aug. 28 following his conviction of the shootings in the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.
"The church teaches that unjustified killing is wrong in all circumstances. That includes the death penalty," Broglio said in an Aug. 29 statement.
"Maj. Hasan and his victims are all entitled to justice," the archbishop added. "Maj. Hasan, at least, now has recourse to a scrupulous appeals process. Would that his victims have received as much fairness."
USA Today publishes commentary by James Alan Fox, "Don't give Hasan the martyrdom he wants." Fox teaches at Northeastern University and is a regualr USA Today contributor.
The 13 members of the jury of military officers took less than two hours -- lightning speed by courtroom standards -- to reach a unanimous verdict that Maj. Nidal Hasan should be executed for his 2009 rampage at the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas that left 13 dead and 31 more wounded.
My sense, beyond a reasonable doubt, is that no one was at all surprised by the outcome, including the defendant himself. After all, Hasan, who stubbornly yet purposely elected to represent himself during the trial, wanted nothing in the way of a defense to the capital murder charges to be employed on his behalf. And certainly, the military panel deciding on the proper punishment would have few qualms about killing an enemy, be it a terrorist or a traitor.
Notwithstanding the horrible suffering that Hasan caused his former Army comrades and their families, we should not reward him by granting a death wish. In e-mails to al-Qaeda leaders, Hasan had explicitly indicated an interest and desire to sacrifice his life to Islam. We should deny him his opportunity for martyrdom, not to mention any move that would put him out of his miserable existence confined to a wheelchair and to a prison cell.