Sunday, August 03, 2008

Death Sentence

It's often argued that capital punishment is no deterrent to murder. But it does prevent it.

How can this be so? Here's how:

Eric Thomas Turner... was the last inmate in NSW to be sentenced to death - it was later changed to life imprisonment - over the 1948 strangling murder of his 15-year-old girlfriend. On the same day, Turner also took an axe and murdered the girl's father.

Turner was released in 1970 but three years later he would stab to death his mother-in-law, and then also kill his 11-year-old stepson who went to the woman's aid.
Two people died because a convicted murderer was not put to death and was later released, only to kill again.

The failure of a 12 year prison sentence to teach this particular killer a lesson was itself a lesson that went unlearned by the authorities because when he was again sentenced to life imprisonment in 1973, it was later redetermined to a 20 year non-parole period.

Fortunately, when Turner became eligible for parole in 1993, he didn't seek release and when he finally did so in 2007, something must have sunk into the minds of the parole board by then because he was refused. He died in Long Bay prison hospital last month of lung cancer.

It would have been an unnecssary consideration - and two innocent lives would have been saved - if he had simply been executed back in 1948.

Of course, anti-death penalty proponents might argue that the error lay in not keeping a killer permanently incarcerated.

Indeed, even the most resolved of those on the pro-capital punishment side would have to concede at least a little if this were the case but sadly it's not.

Our 'civilised' response to the 'barbaric' practise of executing murderers in Australia is to imprison them for 10 to 12 years and call it a 'life sentence' to make law-abiding lambs fondly imagine the wolves are being kept from their doors.

In the United States, they execute murderers, don't they? Not really - 0.06% of convicted murders have been executed since 1967 and the average time served by the rest is also 10 to 12 years.

In Britain, eight years is the average time served for murder.

And here are a few more instances of the risk of not executing killers but rather releasing them:

In 1985, 13-year-old Karen Patterson was shot to death.... Her killer was a neighbor who had already served 10 years of a life sentence for murdering his half-brother Charles in 1970... Joe then murdered his adopted father who had worked to persuade parole authorities to release Joe from the life sentence.

Katy Davis... was attacked and forced to open the door by Charles Rector, on parole for a previous murder. (Rector and two accomplices) ransacked her apartment, abducted her and took her to a lake where she was beaten, gang-raped, shot in the head and repeatedly forced underwater until she drowned.

In 1965, Robert Massie murdered mother of two Mildred Weiss in San Gabriel, California. Hours before execution, a stay was issued so Massie could testify against his accomplice. Massie's sentence was commuted to life when the Supreme Court halted executions in 1972. Massie was paroled (and) eight months later robbed and murdered businessman Boris Naumoff in San Francisco.

From Britain:

A 22-year-old man killed a traveller and went on to murder another man while on police bail...
-- Nick

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