Sunday, December 11, 2011

Justice is what?

Okay, so Joshua Komisarjevsky (yes, I had to copy and paste his name...nobody but his family and his lawyers can possible spell it without looking) has been sentenced to death, same as his home invasion partner Steven Hayes.

Now what?

Let's put aside the moral implications of the death penalty for now, as many of you already know my position. What about the practical issues?

The way the death penalty statute stands in Connecticut, it's pretty much assured that should Komisarjevsky and Hayes decide to fight against their sentence, they'll likely die of natural causes (like old age) behind bars before they'll ever have to walk to the death chamber. That's because there are multiple procedures and safeguards built into the law that gives the accused a reasonable chance to appeal his conviction and sentence.

There are obviously cases where an innocent person has been put to death. "You can't get pardoned from the grave," as Juan Melendez-Colon stated at a recent talk in Connecticut. Melendez-Colon spent over 17 years on Florida's death row and was pretty much out of appeals before finally being released upon discovery of his innocence.

It is demonstrably impractical for the state to kill an innocent man. Yet just this week I was astounded when I heard an interview with John Walsh, the host of the TV show "America's Most Wanted" (and the father of a murdered child) admit that while there have been innocent men who have been executed he is still in favor of the death penalty. This is obviously the price of his own humanity that he is willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of vengeance.

But the practical issue here is that the state has to burden itself with the costs of both the prosecution and the defense of every single appeal, along with the increased costs of security for the defendant. These costs far exceed the expense of housing a convict for life in a maximum security prison. And as taxpayers, we're ALL footing the bill for this "justice".

That is exactly what will happen anyway should Komisarjevsky and Hayes refuse to accept their sentence. If they should decide to drop their appeals, they will eventually be put to death, just as serial killer Micheal Ross was in 2005 after dropping his appeals in favor of death.

And that still took a decade of expensive legal wrangling to accomplish.

For what was basically a state-assisted suicide.

The fact of the matter is that sooner or later the death penalty will be abolished in Connecticut. The state legislature put a repeal bill on Gov. Jodi Rell's desk a while back, but she refused to sign it. Governor Malloy will almost certainly approve a death penalty repeal should it cross his desk...I say "almost" because I've learned through painful experience that what a candidate promises is too often the exact opposite of what an office-holder does.

So obviously it's time to rewrite our law to make it "life without any fucking possibility of parole" (and I'm going to push for that exact wording in the law) for anyone convicted of a capital crime.

That way the state saves tax dollars, and the families of both the victims and the defendants (often the overlooked victims of the crime) are spared countless appeals and court appearances.


oldswede said...

I oppose the death penalty as well. I can understand that some need vengeance, but not on my conscience.
Seeing the faces of these two on the front pages of our papers for so long has been sickening. If they were sentenced to life without parole, ever, then we would not see them again, until they died in prison.
The death sentences guarantee that their ugly mugs will continue to haunt the public consciousness for years to come. Every time there is an appeal or a stay, they'll pop up again.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Though I tend to oppose the death penalty for fear of bumping off some poor soul that winds up getting cleared due to DNA evidence too late...knocking off the two Cheshire creeps seems like a good idea.

Unfortunately we probably won't live to see it.

Had those two been sentenced to life instead; sooner or later they would be mixed into the general prison population (no doubt due to some paperwork snafu or other easily explained human error) where I suspect their respective life expectancies could be measured in minutes.

I think that would have suited most of us just fine.