Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Eye For An Eye

In Sociology we watched a piece on Sister Helen Perjean, a nun who is a spiritual advisor to convicts on death row in Louisiana. The movie Dead Man Walking was based on her book of the same name, detailing her first two experiences with gentlemen on death row.

It turns out that spiritual advisor is the only person allowed to be with the inmate up through their death. There are (or were at the time of the piece, 1996) witnesses to the execution, however, they are not friends or family members of the inmate.

It led me to thinking;

Should we have the death penalty?

Yesterday, my Charliam and I were speaking about it. I said in theory I don't agree with it. We don't ever have the right to say that you can kill another person. We're not God. In practice, I'd love to light up every rapist, every child molester, every mass murderer.

Or, I did yesterday.

What really makes me sick is that the families of these victims tend to get so blood thirsty. Years ago, I was watching the news and the grown children of a murdered woman witnessed the execution of her murderer. Their reaction after the man had died of lethal injection was; "He didn't suffer enough."

Didn't suffer enough? A man died. He gave you his blood. What do you want, to rip out his arteries and sacrifice his blood to your grief? Jesus. I don't know exactly what they were expecting.

The sheriff in piece I watched in regards to the case of Robert Willie was angry that he didn't fall on his knees and beg and plead for forgiveness. Instead he said; "If you guys think murder is wrong, I'd like to know what you think you're doing to me." And then he looked at the parents of his victim and said; "I hope you've got some satisfaction."

And the thing is, they didn't. They continue to be miserable and grieve and mourn. They continue to attend every execution that takes place at Angola, sitting outside. They say they're there for the victims, so that they have a voice. I don't think that's why they go. I think they're hoping that if they see enough people die, if they see enough of the people they have deemed to be evil have their lives ended, maybe it will ease the pain of losing their child.

I don't think they quite realize that she's dead. Nothing is going to bring her back. Not an execution, not beating the shit out of the murderer, not watching and listening to the sobs of the family of the murderer as he is put to death.

There is nothing that is going to ease that pain. The sooner they come to grips with that, the happier they are going to be. The mother said she didn't like people getting life in prison because they still got to talk to their families, and she didn't get to see her daughter anymore.

So everyone should suffer the way she suffered? When the murderer is put to death, a mother lost her child, too. A family was torn apart. There are other people who feel pain, and she is not the first person to lose someone and quite sadly, she won't be the last.

I don't think there's any satisfaction to be gained from watching others go through pain. I don't think that's going to save you.

On the other hand, what do we do with these criminals? Can we rehabilitate them? There is a shamefully terrible rehabilitation rate here in America. Something like fifty to sixty percent of people return to prison.

That's frankly pretty disgusting.

And there's the cost of keeping people, even on death row, alive. It costs the taxpayers a lot of money. Maybe we wouldn't have so much debt if we could kill some more of these people. Maybe we wouldn't have them going back if we could just off the ones that seem to be too obstinate, too broken, too insane to be allowed out into the world.

Or maybe we should find better counselors, better programs, better places for those that are mentally ill and end up in prison.

Or maybe we should stop giving them A/C and television and radio. Maybe we shouldn't make it so cushy. Maybe we should cut them off from their families. Maybe we should make them do more labor.

There are a lot of people who (of course) use the Bible to support their side, no matter which it is. There are plenty of murders in the Bible! Whoever sheds human blood let humans by his blood be sheeeeed!

But Jesus said turn the other cheek! Forgive seventy times seven!

All I can think is...

If we an did an eye for an eye, the whole world would be blind.

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