by Ray Will
The recent execution of Saddam Hussein and the minute or two before the actual event has gotten me thinking again about the death penalty. Before I begin I feel I should say that I am a death penalty advocate. However I have some real problems with how it is being implemented as well as the overall attitude of my fellow advocates. I believe that while I am in favor of it as a tool, the implementation of the death penalty represents a failure. It is failure of society to mitigate the crimes of the accused in any other way than through execution.
Real crime fighters know that it costs more to execute a single criminal accused of one crime then to prevent hundreds of crimes from occurring with an increase in police presence, and the rule of law and social justice. If you really want to fight crime then spend the money and effort where it is needed: police presence and community oriented efforts to have neighborhoods and police work together to fight crime. Isn't this better than waiting until a crime is committed, a family suffers, or an officer in blue is wounded or killed due to our inability to combat crime together as a nation?
Sometimes I think some "tough-on-crime" death penalty types don't really want to be tough on crime as as much as they want to be tough on criminals. They want to lie in wait for a crime to be committed so they can engage in "criminal target practice". Only after the crime has happened a family has suffered, or an officer hurt do they feel the need intervene. And like clockwork when crime is on the rise they propose to broaden the death penalty to other crimes, drawing money away from crime prevention and community policing.
The death penalty, if you are in favor of it, is a tool in the toolbox of fighting crime. It is not an excuse to whoop and hollar and yell some bloodthirsty version of "nanny-nanny boo-boo" at the death of criminals who have done inhuman things to others and society as a whole. The death penalty is the ultimate price to pay for crime so this penalty should be respected, not doled out like soft drinks at a ball game for people's entertainment. Other penalties like stiffer jail times or life in prison without parole are actually less expensive than the millions the state would need to provide needed legal defense to be sure the accused was not accused falsely.
Make no mistake, I believe Saddam Hussein should have been executed. He committed genocide against his own people and the evidence was airtight. To place Hussein in prison would have given him even the slightest chance to regain power. But I won't cheer. I won't smile. A horrible tool was used to deal with the horror that was Saddam Hussein. It is certainly nothing to cheer about.