In a prior life, he worked in the prison system. He retired from that position and began running a non-profit which helps to re-integrate people leaving prison into society. In my mind, it is important work.
Mind you, I am opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds. In a truly moral society, how can we justify ever taking another person's life. However, I recognize that not all agree with me on that point, and argue for the use of capital punishment.
My friend made this comment, the last sentence of which went straight to my heart:
"What John Q. Public fails to understand is that this penalty is carried out and witnessed by public servants (correctional personnel) who must deal with the memory for the remainder of their lives. I had a colleague who witnessed an electrocution in 1969 and never fully recovered from that trauma. Execution has devastating and hidden costs to the human soul."Execution has devastating and hidden costs to the human soul.
I posted on Facebook, and there were comments from a full range of my friends, family, and acquaintances. Many of them echoing my thoughts and feelings about the death penalty.
Then there were comments from another friend, one who has been on the other side of the bars from my first friend, mentioned above. Below, I have edited and combined two of his comments.
I know first hand what it is like to be in prison for multiple years. I gotta chime in on this one. I [want to] make two points: 1). It costs less to house an inmate for life than it does to go through the lengthy, automatic, mandatory appeals process for a death penalty sentence. 2) A mandatory, natural life sentence, with NO chance of parole, is a far more severe punishment than a quick and painless death. Let 'em rot in prison for all their days and think about what they did.There is a perspective I had not considered. Death is the easy way out.
Death is the easy way out. Do away with the death penalty and institute mandatory life sentences. Save money and mete out a more severe punishment. It's a win/win. (And as an added bonus we do away with all the extraneous nonsense).
A third friend (who is a nurse by profession) commented:
I also don't believe this is the best answer for all of humanity, but it might be the best of no good options for the family members of the victim.At this point, my intellectual side comes out and says....is it truly more expensive for the appeals than the incarceration assuming no appeals and parole? Will the certainty of a sentence of life without parole, and no appeals, help the families of the victims deal effectively with their loss? More for me to ponder.
As a society, we can't afford to finance the multiple appeals and lengthy incarcerations for the worst of worst criminals.
A final note....I found the whole conversation most interesting. Every single person who commented on my post is someone who is part of one or another of my real-life circles. They are people who would not necessarily know each other, and I am the only one who knows all of them. It was a respectful and thoughtful conversation. One I am glad I had especially since it is one which may not have happened without the technology of social media.