Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Lazy Reporting

Patricia Parker doesn't really know if she wants her brother's killer punished by death. Her brother’s murderer has not been brought to justice and she has not been presented with all of the facts related to the crime. Her first hand qualifications for judging the judicial system don’t exist (yet).

Yet she’s being quoted by news media (as a representative of murder victims or their families?) and advocating for a moratorium on executions as if she really knew or represented all of their best interests? As a relative of a murder victim she’s certainly entitled to her opinions whatever they are on capital punishment (as an individual) but she doesn’t speak for all victims! It’s worth noting that if her brother’s case ever gets tried in “capital” way and the murderer is sentenced to death she stands a good chance of having at least two opportunities (sentencing and clemency) to voice her opinions on what she thinks the appropriate sentence might be (in the proper forums, i.e., not just the media).

Parker doesn’t even speak for the majority of persons who’ve lost a loved one to homicide or a majority of those family members who’ve seen the murderer of their loved one sent to death row. Reality is that District Attorneys are reluctant to pursue a sentence that the family of a murder victim doesn’t support. This doesn’t mean that all murder cases should be treated the same when relatives of murder victims oppose (or support) the execution of a murderer either. Sometimes the best interests of the state require an execution (or clemency) and these interests conflict with the desires of those who are related to the victims. These “conflicts” don’t mean that the death penalty (or an occasion commutation) is wrong.

But that’s what Parker and moratorium advocates are saying. If a moratorium is enacted, and by delaying executions for at least two years, the state will be treating all proven murderers in the same way. Moratorium supporters are engaging outright dismissals of the heinousness, brutality, dangerousness (even behind bars) of the murderers. Juries have said that these crimes scream for or “require a death sentence”. Even the sheer number of victims that some murderers killed (of those who might be executed in those two years) is being dismissed to some extent.

The next murderer scheduled for an execution is Earl Richmond. By all accounts this offender is guilty of no less than four murders. Moratorium supporters would have the state delay his execution so that they might review the fairness of sentences like his. How many murders would Richmond have to commit to be eligible for death or for his death sentence to be “fair”?

The most recent execution was attended by at least two relatives of a victim (Mary Gladden). William “Bugs” Powell bludgeoned Gladden’s head to the point he’d dislodged one of her eyeballs. Despite the dislodged eye and evidence that Powell showed little or no concern for his victim after he was jailed Powell’s lawyers argued that the murder was not premeditated. Unbelievable!

What is believable is the murderers who have been executed in recent years will never cause harm to other persons (corrections staff, other inmates or themselves). The murderers, who were executed, are dead AND THEY WERE GUILTY! There are no looming questions about their guilt either.

Parker and her five friends do not speak for the majority of those who have lost a loved one to homicide. Giving moratorium advocates half the media exposure or half the attention doesn’t give their opinions more weight that others who are right. The arguments of capital punishment should not be reduced to infighting amongst persons who are related to murder victims. Victims should never be pitted against each other like moratorium advocates are attempting to encourage.

Isn’t it apparent that when moratoriums on executions are observed or abolition occurs that only those persons that oppose the idea of an occasional and deserved execution get what they want?

Hopefully the General Assembly won’t turn the moratorium issue into just another political issue. Some of our leaders have already engaged in tactics that include “race baiting” by focusing their observations on perceived racial disparities in prison or death row populations without acknowledging the behaviors (murder, rape, robbery etc), which require the sentences. Favors should not be traded or alliances made (or broken) so that we can protect some guilty and violent murderers from a timely execution. If lawmakers want to study the system or suggest constructive changes that will improve the system for all of those who are accused nothing prevents that. It’s clear that those who support a moratorium are only listening to persons who advocated for the condemned (defense attorneys, relatives of the murderers, prison clergy, pacifist/activists).

Moratorium supporters repeatedly (and conveniently) fail to acknowledge the value of a judicial system that has identified cases (including Gell) where guilt was less than absolutely sure and provided relief when it was appropriate. Instead of making constructive suggestions on how to improve the system, they merely promote indecision (delays) and promote one bill. When the system works, all they see is flaws. The moratorium legislation only amounts to an attack on a sentence; it’s not a genuine attempt to improve anything. They have one item on their agenda; no other tangible legislation is on their radar.

When it comes to the arguments about meting out death sentences (fairly); just who are the sponsors and supporters of the moratorium legislation listening to? When moratorium advocates listen to persons whose primary duty is to represent a client (to the exclusion of others), you should wonder how objective these persons could be. There’s no question about it, they will protect the guilty if they can. And the closer you look into their agenda, the less sense they make.

Death penalty opponents or moratorium advocates (some persons say they are the same thing) only understand that “they know what’s best for all murderers” and they really don’t care what the results of any studies are. They just want to steer us all down a course that includes more delays and indecision (not justice?). These persons who propose moratoria are not among those who might be most directly affected if a murderer escapes his prison cell or kills again. Maybe the next time a new prison needs to be built, it should be in “line of sight” of where these moratorium supporters live or work? Maybe then they might understand? Then again, maybe they have been so socially engineered by their precious murderers that they really don’t know or care how much of a danger they might represent to others anymore.

The "report" (by AP or ABC?) wasn't really a genuine attempt to report truth or real news. It represents more of an attempt to inflame (and misinform?) viewers/readers. Some relatives of murder victims might not support the execution of some murderers (Patricia Parker really doesn't know) but these persons don't speak for all friends and family members of homicide victims (nor should they). The "report" was just STAGED AND SPOONFED MORATORIUM PROPAGANDA AND A PRODUCT OF LAZY REPORTING