Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When the murder victims oppose the death penalty

Two wonderful people, two nuns who served the community selflessly, were murdered near Jackson, Mississippi last week.  Follow the link to see how they served the rural poor as nurses at a clinic and in their neighborhood.

The prosecutor is debating whether to suggest the death penalty for Rodney Sanders, who has been charged with the crime.  But it says in the article ...
"Relatives and colleagues of Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill have publicly expressed their opposition to execution."
It is also likely that the sisters opposed the death penalty themselves.  So I think that the answer is simple, no death penalty.  Don't read the comments in online newspapers  (why do I do that?) because it is a long list of people who don't get it saying that he should be executed.  If I am ever murdered I am going on record right now to say I do not want the prosecutor to seek the death penalty.

At the end of the article is the list of incarcerations for Rodney Earl Sanders, the murderer.

This guy has been in and out of prison since 1986.  I myself am always conflicted between punishment and rehabilitation.  If you think the person is going to leave prison some day how do you make it so they don't return?  By helping them with the problem that cause them to go to prison or by making prison so horrible so they never want to go back there again?

In his case repeated incarceration didn't stop the subsequent crimes.  Here is the list in chronological order since it is a bit jumbled in the article.

  • 1986 in Mississippi, served 6 years for armed robbery (1986 to 1993?)
  • 1996 in Iowa, April to October for 3rd offense drunk driving
  • 1999-2002 in Iowa, theft
  • 2004-2011 in Iowa, 2nd degree robbery
  • 2015 currently on probation after prison term for felony drunk driving conviction (doesn't say how long in prison)

and now

  • 2016 the current 2 counts for capital murder.

What is wrong with this person?  Why didn't he or we fix the alcoholism, fix the stealing, fix the violence before he murders two people.  Fix the circumstances that produced him.

I know we want to hold people accountable for their actions, but at some point you have to ask "Given this pattern of behavior, what can we do to protect the public and help this person who has demonstrated they do not have control of themselves to live in society?"

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