Saturday, November 08, 2003

Perversion of Justice
Alexander Marriott November 8, 2003

Gary Ridgway has pled guilty to the murder of forty-eight women, making him the worst serial killer in American history. His expected punishment? Life in prison without the possibility of parole.

What kind of justice is this? What is the point of the State of Washington having a death penalty if a man like this doesn’t get it? According to the Associated Press Tony McNabb, a detective working the case said of the plea deal, “We're just glad to have played a part in this and to answer some of the questions for victims' families.”

So this is what justice comes down to, answering the questions (i.e. what happened to my relative?) of the families as opposed to ridding mankind of this monster. It seems odd that some of the relatives of victims are perfectly comfortable paying taxes to make sure Mr. Ridgway lives out the rest of his life in relative comfort compared to the poverty many around the world live in for doing nothing other than being born in crummy countries.

What is the meaning of this policy of giving lighter sentences to those who admit they are guilty as opposed to those who maintain their innocence? It is said sometimes that it is the money; guilty pleas are cheaper than trials. This is undoubtedly true, but who cares? It should be up to a jury or judge to decide if this admission of guilt deserves any leniency, rather than accepting any cop outs by prosecutors. The whole point governments are set up in the first place is to deal properly with human waste like Ridgway, not worry about the potential costs of doing their jobs. Vigilante justice would do a better job at this point and if that’s the case, what’s the point of even having a government?

Why not divert some of the ridiculous spending jails do, like providing cable, exercise yards, libraries, etc. and redirecting it to prosecutors so they don’t worry about how much doing the right thing might cost? This would probably be construed as cruel and unusual punishment though.

The Founding Fathers messed up on that point, they said there shall be no cruel and unusual punishments, but they didn’t define what that meant, assuming everyone already knew. Obviously they didn’t consider the death penalty cruel or unusual or they would have gotten rid of it when the country started.

But one can almost guarantee they would have thought that putting rapists and murderers up in comfortable lodgings at the expense of the victims or their families to be cruel and unusual.
Prisons should be returned to the model of the 19th century, let the prisoners build the prison, let them make their own clothes, let them grow their own food, let them break rock, let them be miserable.

Of course there is another fallacy involved here, wherein defendants have an unlimited “right” to an attorney at taxpayer expense. Again, if that is what was meant by the Founding Fathers, why didn’t they ever uphold this “right?” Simply because it isn’t a right at all. Legal services don’t float in the air, they must be provided by other men, and if you can’t pay for them someone else must. To say such a thing as legal services is a right is to ignore or be ignorant of what individual rights are.

It is due to this misunderstanding that endless appeals have become commonplace. Hence the dumb statistic always pointed to be death penalty opponents showing that giving the death penalty costs more than locking people up for life. The thing that is ignored is the incredible expense that both of these propositions cost.

Back to Gary Ridgway, a man who, according to the Associated Press, stopped by the gravesites of his victims to have sex with their bodies. His case presents a dilemma to death penalty advocates all over the country, for when prosecutors argue that John X, who killed one person, should be given the death penalty the taxpayer funded defense lawyer can point to Gary Ridgway who killed forty-eight women and got life in prison. If Ridgway isn’t given the death penalty, they will argue, why should anyone else?

Of course they are putting a quantifiable value on killing people, the more you kill the worse you are, whereas all murderers are violating the same principles and are all equally evil. But what does this matter anymore? The Justice system seems too worried about perverting itself at this point.

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