The Capital Punishment Debate

The Capital Punishment Debate
`Dudley Wayne Kyzer, I sentence you to ten thousand years in prison without parole. During the period of your incarceration you will not be allowed to die. Even if you die, there are enough brilliant scientists from America, China and Japan to resuscitate you. You are not allowed to catch malaria fever. Definitely you are not allowed to contract human immune deficiency virus by being sodomised by your fellow inmates. But if you do you will be kept alive by all those anti-retroviral drugs being produced by our brilliant scientists. I am determined that you must serve out your term as a deterrent to other hardened criminals like you who might want to try my patience,’ the judge concluded looking very pleased with himself!

I wasn’t there and can only imagine what the judge somewhere in the United States of America said years ago while passing such a ridiculous sentence on Mr Kyzer for murdering his wife. The length of sentence I assume was probably the judge’s incensed reaction to the brutality of the act. Another person, Mr Long, was sentenced to twenty five life prison sentences for raping fifty women and killing about half of them. Yet another, a Mr Corona, was given twenty five life sentences for the murder of twenty five farm workers. Over the years all over the world some such incredible prison sentences have been passed on human beings. There was the case of Gabriel Grandos who, in Spain, was sentence to three hundred and eighty five thousand years for failing to deliver forty thousand letters! Obviously these sentences have no chance of being carried out to the letter. That is until human beings with their ingenuity find out a way of keeping you and me and the likes of Mr Grandos alive for three hundred and eighty five thousand years or more.

So why mete out such ridiculous sentences in the first place if the person meting out the punishment knows that there is no chance of the punishment being served out. Is it to do with the ego of the judge? Is it a question of playing to the gallery? Why is there no uniformity, no realism or standardisation in court judgments?

Fast forward to 6th June 2015 to the escape from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility by Richard Matt and David Sweat, two violent criminals serving life sentences. Matt kidnapped, tortured and killed his employer. He had killed before. Police say `you can never have enough security with Matt.’  He is the more dangerous of the two but was serving twenty five years to life sentence which seems to me less harsh than Sweat’s sentence of life without parole for killing a policeman.

So what differentiates Grandos from Corona and Matt or Sweat? It is obvious that what the judge meant with Kyzer was that he should never see the light of day till death. Why did he not say so? Why were Matt and Sweat given the chance to see the light of day again? They have been free for over two weeks. And they are causing fear among American citizens. Thousands of law enforcement agents are running helter-skelter carrying all sorts of weapons looking for them. There is no guarantee innocent citizens will not die in the cross fire when they are found. Millions of tax payers’ money is being spent on finding them. There is a great risk that they will kill again.

Why is it called a Correctional Facility anyway? What has the Facility corrected in Messrs Matt and Sweat? The Facility is said to have a capacity of two thousand nine hundred and fifty nine inmates but at the time of the escape there were about two thousand eight hundred inmates. There are nine hundred and twenty nine correction officers.

So, the vital question becomes why were they not sentenced to death in the first place and saved everybody the trouble? Excuses for being against death sentences include:
1. Fear of making a mistake as in the case of Louis Taylor who spent forty two years in prison for arson that killed twenty nine people. He had actually been helping people escape the hotel fire! But with discovery of the DNA the chances of mistakes are reduced.
2. Moral and religious grounds.
3. It is barbaric. More barbaric than the murder itself?
4. Not an effective deterrent! What is an effective deterrent?
5. Makes people who apply it as guilty as the offenders. Really?
6. It cheapens human life. As if the act of killing somebody does not cheapen human life!

In my humble opinion these cannot be genuine reasons why Matt and Sweat are leading the whole of the mighty USA law enforcement agents on a merry go round and frightening citizens to death. Death sentences should have been passed ab initio.
But there is a twist in that the more people being corrected the more jobs there will be for correctors, if you can pardon the language. So perhaps this is one positive that can be taken from Messrs Matt and Sweat being corrected in a maximum security prison than being six feet under! Also if they had been killed I would not be here perhaps six thousand miles away paying the service provider and watching the debacle on the CNN and Al Jazeera! Fewer newspapers would be sold. There would not be so much entertainment and excitement.

The ways of the world are strange! We keep creating problems and then scramble all over the place to find solutions. Well, Mr Dylann Roof has given us another opportunity by going into a church and killing nine innocent people. Will he be another person to be corrected until he kills again?

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