Friday, May 11, 2007

Death Penalty

Philip Workman's recent execution here in Tennessee made me wonder about the equability of his punishment. Should killing a cop automatically equal a harsher punishment than killing a civilian? What are your thoughts? From the limited knowledge I have read about the case, Workman was strung out on crack, frantically searching out money for his next high. Thus, he attempted a robbery of a fast-food store and in the process, killed a Memphis police officer.

What I don't understand, or maybe what I am trying to work through, is the equability of crimes and their punishment. This blog entry is by no means meant to be a debate on the ethics for or against the death penalty.

There are hundreds of murders that get lighter punishments. Murders that happen completely sober (not that being high is an excuse) and planned out. Perhaps the assailant will get released on good behavior, you know...because he's been "rehabilitated" or whatever. And there are hundreds of crimes that are far more torturous and heinous that get lesser penalties. Domestic abusers who beat their wives and/or girlfriends to within an inch of their lives are up for parole constantly, forcing those abused to relive the assault over and over again in hearing after hearing. And there are the child molesters who, time after time, have proven that they are not rehabilitated but are released onto the streets to do it again and again.

So did Workman's penalty fit his crime? Should killing a cop equal a harsher punishment?


bobuster said...

I don't think that I would ever make a good juror. My theory is that the punishment should most certainly fit the crime, and that the punishment should leave a lasting "impression" on the convicted. Just as they have left scars on other people's lives.
If you commit a robbery, or an assault, you lose some fingers...second offense, take the hand. Losing fingers and hands should hopefully make it difficult to commit that crime again. Convicted of rape...guess what you lose...that's right, you won't be able to do it again! Convicted of take someone's life, no matter whose life that is, you lose your life!

Jim Gibb said...

The death penalty has been a dying (ha!) trend for a long while. Virtually every industialized and/or democratic society has eradicated it. Our stubborn penchant for Biblical justice has somehow kept us behind the times.
I know you didn't want an ethical debate, but sorry. No modern nation should implement capital punishment, simple as that. No matter the arguments on either side, the fact remains that innocent people will be killed before they can be exonerated, and that is reason enough to abstain. Nobody wants innocent blood on his/her hands.
As for your actual's a tough one. No, a police officer's life is not worth more than anyone else's. However, it might just make sense to further deter people from killing those in charge of enforcing the law. They are already in harm's way, after all.

The Exception said...

I know, this does not speak to the question posed, but... consider the punishment for crimes against children versus drugs etc. In many states you will find that those convicted of molestation etc receive a lighter punishment than drug sales etc.

I am a firm believer in the justice system but, sometimes, I have to wonder if the means by which we determine punishment are a bit... off.

patrick stubblefield said...

The previous posts here, I think, are pretty insightful. I do believe that the means by which we determine some punishments are a bit off, but it's difficult to expect perfection in those regards. Imagine making an attempt to quantify an exact penalty for crimes in relation to all other crimes. One would go crazy trying to do so. Obviously there must be changes and modifications made from time to time, and I believe that we have a system set up to allow us to do that; it's just up to us to ensure that these modifications are made. As it relates to the post itself I must agree with Gibb, no officer's life is worth more than anothers, but I don't think it's a question of worth. As a society we choose to place police officers into our communities as authority figures to uphold the peace. Killing those figures is another act of defiance committed by the murderer. So in essence, the crime is that much greater than if the murderer had killed a civilian.