(Warning: This column contains graphic descriptions of a crime scene that may disturb some readers.)
What do the two following paragraphs have in common?
Two “beautiful innocent young girls were subjected to the most brutal gang rapes that most of the investigating officers had ever encountered. The confessions of the gang members that were used at trial indicated that there was never less than two men on each of the girls at any one time and that the girls were repeatedly raped orally, anally and vaginally for the entire hour. The medical examiner testified that in one case two front teeth were knocked out of one girl’s brutalized mouth before she died and that two of the other girls ribs were broken after she had died. Testimony showed that the girls’ bodies were kicked and their necks were stomped on after the strangulations to “make sure that they were really dead.”
Then, in certain instances, the following rights and/or privileges are guaranteed for life: free food recommended by dietitians and prepared by trained chefs; free medical and dental care; family visits (including, in some cases, conjugal visits); freedom to practice your religion (even if it advocates killing of “unbelievers”); freshly laundered bed linens and clothing; supervised exercise; modern exercise equipment and set times for recreation and exercise; color televisions to alleviate boredom (one state is campaigning for 42-inch flat screen TVs); library access, including access to legal and medical books; prepaid legal representation; guaranteed jobs and banking privileges; on-premises shopping facilities; maintenance of a healthy lifestyle; participation in group sports, hobbies and interest groups – all prepaid (at taxpayer expense) and at no cost to the recipients.
This is what those paragraphs have in common; in the second paragraph, those are not retirement benefits awarded after 40-50 years of hard, honest work; they are,just some of the taxpayer-funded “bennies” available to those who have, in many cases, participated in scenarios such as outlined in the first paragraph. In other words, criminals who commit such heinous acts as found in paragraph one, and are sentenced to “life in prison,” have, in almost every instance, access to the benefits listed in paragraph two.
Recently, a United Nations treaty supported by Secretary of State John Kerry, which called “for international regulations on firearms, including personal firearms as well as military weapons” was narrowly defeated (emphasis added). Ostensibly to regulate drug dealers and other illegal use of weapons, this treaty would have been used in the United States to strictly control private gun ownership. In the U.S. Senate, the president’s gun assault on the Second Amendment failed by a vote of 54-46, essentially along party lines; Republicans against, Democrats for it. Both bills would have essentially gutted the Second Amendment, which plainly states, “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Criminals – those intent on doing harm to others – have never been, nor will they ever be, deterred from criminal activities by laws currently on the books. They won’t be deterred by any new legislation controlling the ownership of guns.
As you consider the benefits associated with prison sentences, and the various and sundry charges that court-appointed and win-at-all-costs attorneys bring into the system, you can perhaps see the need for some type of revision. Keep in mind, in the United States each state has the ability to create its own definitions for various crimes, so they can vary from place to place. There is first and second degree murder, manslaughter with malice aforethought and special circumstances. (There are simply too many different variations of the foregoing to list here.) Then there are temporary and complete insanity pleas, plus various types of plea bargains, all designed to minimize the punishment for taking the life of another human being.
I have a simple solution that could satisfy both those who fear gun violence and those who recognize that gun violence is primarily engaged in by lawbreakers. It would, however, call for a radical departure from much of what passes for justice in our court system today. Simply make it illegal to kill someone.
Take the opening paragraph: There were four young men involved, including one who was a minor at the time, yet he participated. They all were caught; they all were guilty. Until and unless it can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a death was totally accidental (excessive speed and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol excluded), no “ifs,” no “ands,” no “buts” – no first or second degree, no voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, no temporary or complete insanity pleas. You do it, you die.
Furthermore, as once was the case, the executions should be carried out in public. No more of this quietly behind bars with medical sedation in sterile, private rooms nonsense. Several nationally televised public executions would convince potential perpetrators that crime does not pay. Just as sex education, drivers education and sports activities are taught publicly, shown on video and discussed publicly, so should this lesson: You do it, you die.