Thursday, June 27, 2013

G-d Bless Texas...

Texas executes 500th inmate — and the fourth woman — since 1982
HUNTSVILLE, Texas —Texas marked a solemn moment in criminal justice Wednesday evening, executing its 500th inmate since it resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.

Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death for the murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, was also the first woman executed in the U.S. in nearly three years.
I distinctly remember being in San Antonio when Carla Faye Tucker was executed. It was pretty shocking for this Massachusetts boy to hear people openly praising the state for putting her to death - although after reading up on the events leading to her sentencing and the crime she'd committed, I can't say I blame them. Texas doesn't mess around when it comes to executing dangerous criminals - it accounts for nearly a half of the state-run executions in the United States.

Some folks opposed the death penalty because they oppose giving the state that much power. I can't really argue with that. The state has proven, time and time again, that it could f**k up a wet dream; yet we want to give the state the ultimate power, the power to take life? Yet, on the other hand, this idiotic state that we don't trust to execute criminals has cops armed with machine guns and armored vehicles and we don't bat an eye (well, *we* do, of course; but the starry-eyed bleeding hearts certainly don't seem to care).

There are cases where there is no question of guilt. Here in Massachusetts many years ago, State Trooper Mark Charbonnier stopped a convicted felon who opened fire as the officer walked up to his van. Officer Charbonnier was hit under his vest, and managed to wound the scumbag seriously enough that he couldn't leave the scene. Officer Charbonnier called in that he'd been shot, gave a description of the scumbag and the scumbag's vehicle, and identified the scumbag to the officers that responded.

The scumbag had the murder weapon in his hand - and a bullet from Charonnier's gun lodged in his head. 

You tell me what doubt there is. Tell me. Tell me the state might have had the wrong guy. That episode was one of the big reasons I didn't follow my father and grandfather's footsteps into law enforcement - because I honestly don't know how they maintained the professionalism not to empty their service weapons into that cowardly bastard. My hat is firmly off to the officers who responded to that scene for showing nothing but calm efficiency and emotional detachment in the apprehension of that scumbag. At the time, I couldn't honestly answer "yes" to the question of whether I could do the same.

Here's another reason for the death penalty. "Father" John Geoghan, one of the pivotal figures in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, was beaten to death in prison. The man who killed him? He was a lifer. You tell me what possible motivation someone in prison has not to walk the straight and narrow absent the death penalty. What are they going to do? It's cruel and inhumane punishment to throw him in a hole, or beat him, or anything of that nature. There's simply no incentive not to be the most insane, violent animal in the place - unless the state can dangle the needled in front of you.

Some people just need killin' - and Texas is killin' a lot of 'em...

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)


LCB said...

You make good points. But...there have been WAY too many murder and rape convicitons overturned lately by DNA evidence. And in all of these cases, the prosecution just KNEW they had the right man/woman.

That's what gives me pause on the death penalty. Not that the state has too much power in this...but that too many prosecutors are just plan WRONG.

Anonymous said...

In fact, being the most insane, violent animal in the place is about the only way a lifer can survive any significant length of time. Everyone else incarcerated has to know you simply don't care what happens to you, and in reality, most don't care about the needle. And,yes, I have a little insight into that mentality, because I treat about half the guards and counselors at the largest prison in the state.

That said, the death penalty most assuredly does have an impact on criminals, and especially on those who are non-violent or mostly non-violent. (The violent ones have pretty much decided they are going to die young at someone elses hand, either another criminal, a cop, or the state.) So it keeps the borderline ones from becoming more dangerous.

Texas has it about right, execute those who have been absolutely, positively convicted, and keep them on death row until they are, or until they are exonerated.

lelnet said...

"yet we want to give the state the ultimate power, the power to take life?"

All states have the power to take life. It's the main thing that differentiates a state from a corporation: the pre-indemnified power to aggressively wield lethal force against those among its residents who do not consent to its rule.

The only differentiation between "death penalty" states and other states is that in the former kind, this power is (whenever practicable) employed only at the terminus of an extensive period of examination of evidence and debate over its significance, giving presumably cooler heads the chance to weigh in on the question of whether the person in peril of his life at the state's hands really _ought_ to be so, whereas in the latter kind of state, this power is wielded _exclusively_ in heat-of-the-moment situations that lack the opportunity for reflection and the input of third parties.

A person who has been convicted in a court of law by a jury of his peers, who has been sentenced to death, who has enjoyed the full benefit of the appellate courts to no avail, and who has been killed in a judicially-sanctioned execution years after his original crime might possibly be innocent. It could happen. Humans are, after all, fallible. But I'd assert that the odds of a death-row inmate who makes it all the way to the gurney _actually_ being innocent are _FAR_ lower than the odds of some dude who gets shot and killed by a cop. (Even then...well, probably guilty. In some cases, such as the one in Our Host's story, I'd rate it as effectively a certainty. But there's a lot more room for doubt, in your typical heat-of-the-moment shooting.)

Innocent people being _almost_ executed are not an argument against capital punishment. They're an argument in favor of strenuously examining the evidence before using was done in their cases, which is how we know they were innocent, and why we didn't actually kill them.

Sevesteen said...

I've got misgivings about the death penalty, so my compromise proposal is that I would support it for the second, entirely separate death-penalty-worthy crime.

8Notch said...

While I have no trouble with the state putting to death those who are deserving of of it, I recognize that good, serious, people have sincere misgivings, and not just because they are hippies (though some might have flowers in their hair). At least to my mind, we don't have a death penalty problem, we have a JUSTICE problem. The scary ones are where a single-minded prosecutor is darn well gonna send Someone to Ol' Sparky, and the judge tosses out evidence that might exonerate the defendant, because there is an election coming up for him also. Obviously demented prosecution needs to result in being a member of the general populace.

TOTWTYTR said...

As Ron White says,

Most states are doing away with the death penalty, mine has put in an express lane. In Texas, if you kill someone, we're going to kill you back."

I don't like it, but sometimes it has to be done. If MA had it, I'd suggest that A. Hernandez, if convicted, be put to death.