14 May 2011

WWPD (What would Petit do?)

Now that apparently the testimony of one crime victim can stop legislation dead in its tracks (pardon the pun), I think we should turn to him for all decisions: the marijuana bill?  The Shelton prom incident? The union concession agreement?  The next Lakers coach?

Dear legislators, OF COURSE crime victims want to see the perpetrators of the crimes against them receive the harshest penalties.  It's natural.  If I were he, I'd also be asking the location and height of the nearest yardarm, but THAT'S why we have a judicial system: to take the vengeance factor out of decisions about guilt and punishment.  (I'm still appalled that the two accused men's guilty pleas in exchange for the life-imprisonment without parole were rejected by court.  The cost -- both financial and psychic -- to the state of dragging this through the courts and media for years and years and, yes, years just doesn't seem worth it.)

This personalization of law flies in the very face of the "justice is blind" concept that should underlie our legislation.  This same concern is why I've always been against "naming" laws and procedures like "Emily's Law" or "Amber Alerts" because they only add fuel to the fire of pursuit and prosecution instead of encouraging reason to prevail over emotion.

A punishment should fit the crime, but that punishment should be dispassionately exercised, and enough research has shown  (repeatedly) that the death penalty serves no higher value (like deterrence or rehabilitation or even cost savings) than vengeance -- and, as interviews in the wake of the Osama Bin Laden execution have shown most recently -- even such immediate justice as that doesn't bring any sense of closure to his victims.

If the good doctor had managed to kill the two men himself on that horrible day, I'd be completely supportive of a suspended sentence and immediate release for justifiable homicide.  But once the arrests were made and the case arrived in court, his say should hold little weight...and, in the halls of the legislature, it should hold even less.       

No comments:

Post a Comment