Re: Mass voters bring back the death penalty!
posted at 7/1/2013 8:57 AM EDT
Well, first off being found guilty of execution style murder and committing an execution style murder are two very different things FYI. So for being found guilty of execution style murder, I would adamantly argue against the death penalty. Actually committing the crime is another beast, but I'd still be opposed to the death penalty for several reasons.
First, as much as you try to isolate the incident, what we're ultimately talking about is PUBLIC policy, meaning that the death penalty ramifications would not just reach Hernandez. While it'd be great to examine the death penalty's merit in a vacuum, in practice that's simply impractical. That's a huge reason for my objection to the death penalty- while you may find it justified for particularly heinous crimes, actual uniform, fair, and unarbitrary implementation and execution remain improbably and likely impossible.
Also, while it may appeal emotionally to us to just kill murderers, since when has the US justice system been based on reciprocity? Do we rape rapists? Steal from thieves? How do you punish people for DUI then? If a murderer kills an entire person's family in front of one family member and spares that person in order to cause them mental anguish, is it the state's role to murder the murderer's family then? Obviously, when you play out exact reciprocity scenarios, you can begin to see how absurd and impractical a system it is. Why then would we allow that to be the standard for one crime? It just doesn't make sense.
I'm all for giving the worst available punishment for the worst crimes. But is the worst punishment the death penalty? Isn't a life without opportunity for parole in and of itself a death penalty, only on a longer timeline? I know for me, if I were facing life in prison or had the option to end it early, I'd opt for the latter. Once again, that's an individual assessment and one that can't be answered uniformly. And then, that brings up further questions: What constitutes the worst of the worst? Where should prosecutors and the state draw the line? What about mitigating/aggravating factors? Theoretically, had Odin repeatedly verbally, emotionally, and sexually abused Hernandez's girlfriend's sister and threatened Hernandez's girlfriend, and Hernandez killed him in cold blood because of that, would you still want Hernandez to be killed? (Ignoring of course the other alleged crimes he's being investigated for) Murder is such a unique and personal a crime that it creates real problems when trying to draft policy implementations for it.
Am I opposed to the death penalty in and of itself? No. If its purpose was to serve a legitimate desirable legal or societal end (deterrence, incapacitation, retribution, etc), its use actually served that end and the data supported that fact, its implementation was fair, impartial, and not capricious, and it offered fair recourse for appeals and appropriate and proportionate reimbursement for wrongfully convicted individuals, then I could support the death penalty as a policy. Because ours doesn't do that, and likely never will abide by that standard, I can't support an overarching death penalty policy, and thus, cannot support the death penalty for individual cases like Hernandez's, even if the crime is horrendous and the evidence is overwhelmingly conclusive.