KaLeo, The Voice of the University of Hawaii, publishes the editorial column, "Life sentences more effective than death penalty," by Kristen Paul Bonifacio.
On Friday, ex-soldier Naeem Williams was sentenced to life in prison for the 2005 killing of his 5-year-old daughter. He faced either the death penalty or life in prison. If the jury had decided to sentence Williams to death, it would have been the first such sentence in Hawai‘i’s history since statehood in 1959.
His sentencing once again brings to light the heatedly debated argument about the death penalty as a form of punishment for murder and serious crimes. However, although Williams committed a horrific murder, the judge was correct in sentencing him to life in prison instead of ending his life.
A life in prison sentence is a better sentence for individuals who commit capital crimes. The death penalty is barbaric, but it’s ability to prevent similar heinous acts has been questioned by statistics that show it does not limit homicide rates.
"Hawaii juror favored death for ex-soldier, 8-4," is the AP report by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, via West Hawaii Today.
It was the same jury that convicted Williams of murder in April that deliberated for about seven days before deciding they couldn’t agree on a sentence. An indication of their turmoil was their announcement that they had reached their verdict Thursday afternoon but wanted to wait until Friday morning to read it because some of them were “emotionally drained.”
The concept of sending someone to his death is unfamiliar in Hawaii, where capital punishment was abolished in 1957, before the islands became a state. But this jury had to make that decision because Williams’ crime occurred in military housing and he was tried in the federal court system, where the death penalty is available.
Earlier coverage of the Hawaiian federal verdict is at the link.
Related posts are in the federal death penalty category index.