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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Punishment vs. Protection

John Allen Muhammad was put to death on Thursday night in Virginia.  He was the man, who with his 17-year old accomplice, terrorized our area for about three weeks.  I remember traveling south during that time and not stopping for gas until we were well on the other side of North Carolina; we were that scared.  Muhammad and Malvo were finally found not too far from where we live, sleeping in their car.

Some time before this all happened, I met a man who works as a psychiatrist in a prison for the criminally insane. I asked this quiet man with a quick smile what he thought of the death penalty.  He answered me quickly and assuredly.  "I'm all for it."  I was really curious.  Wouldn't a psychiatrist understand the gargantuan strength of mental illness and have compassion for its victims? 

He said that mental illness aside, he believes that society has the responsibility of protecting its innocents as best it can from predators, those among us who will never be cured, never affect change, but provide a substantial and formidable danger to society.  I'd never thought about it that way.  I have thought that life in prison is probably more cruel, more unnatural than a lethal injection, but never thought of capital punishment as a means of protection.

7 comments:

Jay said...

I'm not opposed to the death penalty, but I don't think I agree with the "It protects us" philosophy. These people are already in prison. They're not getting out (we're talking about capital murder here, not lessor offenses). They are no longer a threat to society in general once they're locked up.

Yeah, I know. On TV people escape from prison all the time.

Jamie said...

Hmmm, food for thought at least. I guess I have never thought about it in that capacity, either. I am not a fan of the death penalty, at least I never have been but I find that recently, I think it applies more than it used to. Age or just a sign that the world is prpgressively worse? I don't know.

Lena said...

I remember that time well, because there was a business meeting planned in that area. Our bosses went back and forth trying to decide whether or not to cancel the meeting.

People were very scared of traveling down there and after a great deal of pressure, the meeting was canceled.

I thought it was the right choice for management to make.

Cheryl said...

I remember how it affected us. Afraid to get gas. Afraid to park in a shopping center. Afraid. My niece was in the middle school where the boy was shot. It was blocks from my parent's house. It was a bad time.

Goosey said...

I remember seeing this on the news when it was happening and finding it hard to believe. We have not had the death penalty here in the UK for many years so it is hard to say what is right or wrong. It must have been very frightening for you all.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

That's a new way of thinking about capital punishment. Personally, I could never vote for the death penalty as a juror. I would go with life with no chance of parole.

Palm Springs Savant said...

I'll be honest. I am fully in favor of capital punishment. Even though the death penalty has been unjustly served at times, in most cases than not, it is a fitting punishment and provides a much needed sense of closure to society. I realize this may be controversial, but.....