Thoughts on New Jersey Banning the Death Penalty

I spent a lot of my years with fairly conservative views, at least when it came to financial and international affairs. But I have always had two core beliefs that kept me distanced from the title of right wing. First, I’m pro-choice. I, like I imagine most people, would not vote for someone I knew was going to attempt to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Second, I’m anti-death penalty. This belief has gotten me into the most passionate of arguments. People often think that when one doesn’t believe in the death penalty, that they also don’t believe some people deserve to die. That is simply not true. In fact I think there are crimes that people should die for that are not even legally considered capitol offenses.

My stance on the death penalty is not about what would be justice, it’s about the flaws in the legal system and the people who abuse it. DNA has cleared hundreds of people that were previously found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of those “criminals† were cleared too late. Mistakes are made, police get over zealous, and occasionally the wrong people get convicted for crimes, including capitol offenses. As New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has perfectly stated, “Government cannot provide a fool-proof death penalty†.

Now of course this is little comfort when looking at the people the New Jersey ban spares, including Jesse Timmendequas, the monster who is the reason Megan’s Law exists. I think we can all agree that anyone who takes the life of a child…well death seems to easy for all the pain they have caused. But we can take some comfort in knowing that the killer is off our streets forever, and prison is not much fun, especially for a child killer.

If we want to get tougher on crime, the time is not just after the murder, but let’s stop these things before they happen. If our children are as precious to us as we say, we do we let criminals who victimize children out or prison so easily? I feel that if anyone harms a child, they should not only go to prison for a very, very long time, but they have given up their freedom on the outside as well. They should be tagged and monitored at all times. If they are caught anywhere near a child again, automatic parole violation and back to prison. If we want to get tough on crime, let’s not wait until it’s too late. Parole for these criminals should be indefinite.

But overall I very much agree with Gov. Corzine’s ban. I think it’s a step in the right direction. The fact is that there has never been any studies I know of that show a correlation between violent crime and the death penalty. I doubt the deterrent of the death penalty is much more than the deterrent of life in prison.

And then there is the cost of seeking the death penalty. It’s estimated that the death penalty has cost New Jersey over $250 million dollars since 1983. That’s a lot of funds that could go to better use to protect the public. Like better monitoring paroled sex offenders.

And the final argument is of course the moral implications of state sponsored homicide. We are Americans, and we are supposed to value human rights more than any other country. But take a look at the company we keep with our death penalty laws.

According to Wikipedia, in the number of death penalty executions in 2006, we are number 6. We fall behind human rights legends such as China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan. Is this where we should be?

Although it should be said that China has gone a little crazy in that they reportedly have executed up to 8,000 people in 2006. Something to think about while in Walmart picking out Christmas gifts that were made in China.

As I said in my post about drunk driving laws, criminal law is not supposed to be about punishment, but about protecting the public, and setting a precedence. If the death penalty is not a deterrent, than it is simply punishment. And we are not protecting the public by executing innocent people. We are Americans, and we are too good, and too evolved for the death penalty.
[tags]death penalty, jon corzine, jesse timmendequas, megan’s law, criminal law[/tags]


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