Why I Support the Execution of Stanley Williams and the Death Penalty
With the recent execution of Stanley Williams there has been a lot of discussion of the death penalty, with many people opposing it. I myself am a strong supporter of the death penalty, and in fact I consider a criminal justice system without a death penalty to be unjust and unethical. I also find the mentality of people who would eliminate the death penalty just to see people live their lives in prison to be reprehensible. This is essentially creating more victims just to keep one's own conscience clean. The first thing that the opponents of the death penalty need to accept is that this issue is not about them or their feelings of guilt or their feelings about humanity, it is about the convict and the victims. We should not refrain from killing others just to keep blood off our own hands.
Many opponents of the death penalty claim that "killing them makes us as bad as they are". This is false, but it also demonstrates the selfish attitude of the opponents because their real desire in opposing the death penalty is to absolve themselves of the act of carrying out justice.
When discussing the death penalty there are two completely different and important factors to consider.
First: Is the death penalty justifiable at all? In other words, in cases where there is 100% certainty that the person convicted is guilty of the crime that they are convicted of, is the death penalty appropriate?
Second: Is the death penalty justifiable given the consideration that people may wrongfully be convicted?
I hope to show here that the death penalty is justifiable on both of these counts.
Establishing the first point is essential, because if there are no cases where the death penalty is justifiable then there is no point even discussing the second point.
Is the death penalty justifiable in any case, and if so, what cases?
I would say that the death penalty is certainly justifiable in cases of "cold blooded" murder and torture. If someone kills another human being for "no good reason", then this person should be put to death. What constitutes "no good reason"? Intentionally killing someone for enjoyment, out of callous disregard for their life, or in order to cover-up another crime.
Killing someone in self defense, even while committing a crime, should not warrant a death penalty because this is a case of natural self preservation, despite the fact that it is ultimately a result of another initial crime. Small crimes can escalate beyond what the perpetrator anticipated and result in the killing of someone that the criminal had no intention of killing originally. This should not warrant the death penalty.
I do not think that any crime of passion should warrant the death penalty, because these are emotionally enraged acts of violence that most likely don't reflect on the person's overall demeanor or intentions. Crimes of passion are not justifiable, but they are understandable.
Why is the death penalty justifiable in the cases mentioned? Because the person committing the crime has broken the most essential social contract. The most essential social contract is that we will not kill each other senselessly. You are free to live on this planet as long as you abide by the rule that you don't kill other people for no good reason. Once you violate that rule, then your time is done - you have demonstrated that you do not deserve to live. Killing individuals who are a threat to society and who themselves have callous disregard for life is perfectly natural and part of maintaining a healthy population. Rehabilitation or not makes no difference. What good works can be done to undo the killing of people for no good reason? None. Nothing can redeem that act, and there should be no reason why we should keep people alive or allow people to live who have broken the most important social contract, which is not to kill other people without cause.
Killing a killer does not "make you as bad as the killer".
Forcing society to pay for the maintenance of the lives of killers indefinitely is a crime against society. That the family of the victims of murder have to pay for the meals and medical care of the person who killed their loved ones is a crime. Literally what is happening with a life sentence is that someone's loved ones are killed, and then they have to give up a portion of the value that they produce every day to the person who killed their loved one. It's like if you are a farmer and someone murdered your child for fun, and then you had to take a portion of the food that you harvest every day and give it to that person for the rest of your life. That person's murder of your child then makes them a dependent of yours. That's exactly what prison is and how prison functions. Prison punishes the victims as well as the criminals, because we all have to pay for it.
If you are a part of society (which everyone who is in contact with any other human is) then you have an obligation to society not to murder people. When you make the choice to kill another human being for no good reason you have given up your right to life. It's a very simple rule.
Now for the second point. Many people claim that we should not have a death penalty because the justice system is not perfect and we inevitably condemn innocent people to death. People get wrongfully convicted all the time. It is a tragedy of life that is so far impossible to solve. The reality, however, is that people who are given a death sentence are far more likely to have a wrongful conviction overturned than anyone else. The fact that it is a death sentence means that these people receive extra attention. Wrongful convictions where there is a death sentence are more likely to get overturned than life sentences.
All wrongful convictions are an injustice. Serving life in prison if you didn't commit a crime is hardly less a tragedy of justice than being put to death if you didn't commit the crime. The fact is that if you are actually innocent of the crime you stand a higher chance of having your conviction overturned and being set free if you are on death row than if you are serving life in prison.
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated many times that the death penalty can be a useful bargaining chip to get defendants to cooperate with an investigation. The threat of the death penalty has been shown many times to lead to cooperation by murderers that helps to solve the crimes that they have committed.
People who have committed senseless murder deserve to be put to death. In fact, in cases where there is 100% certainty that the conviction is correct I think the death sentence should be carried out within weeks. In cases like those of Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, etc., there is no reason that the death sentence should not be carried out almost immediately.
Not only is the death penalty completely justifiable, but it actually increases the accuracy of the justice system. I do feel, however, that the death penalty is not correctly used in America today. First of all, there are dozens of people on death row who have been sentenced to death on crimes committed as juveniles. Most of these people killed a male, often their father or step father, who was abusing their mother. These conviction are an outrage. To sentence a teenager to death for killing the abuser of their mother, or the sexual abuser of them self or a sibling, is a complete reversal of justice, yet this is the case in our justice system today.
Secondly, the death penalty is unevenly applied based on race, and this is an outrage. The problem, however, is not the death penalty itself, but rather the laws and the justice system. The fact still remains that wrongfully convicted blacks are more likely to be set free from death row than from a life sentence due to the extra scrutiny of their cases.
I support the death penalty and actually think that it's use should be expanded, but the inequities and injustices in the system definitely deserve much attention and need to be corrected.
As for Stanley Williams, if he was guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted, then he deserved the death penalty. His execution should serve as his ultimate lesson to the youth he claimed to be committed to helping. The lesson is simple. This is not a game, and being in a gang and committing crime is not cool or a means to fame and you aren't going to be forgiven if you kill people. Don't get involved and don't do the crime, because you aren't going to be a hero, you are going to be executed. It's not glamorous, it's real. Stanley Williams is not a hero. The heroes are the guys and girls that grew up in the same neighborhood as Stanley and went on to become successful and productive members of society, who are now raising their own families, instead of destroying families. Those are the real heroes, not Stanley.