Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Which Sentence Is Cruel And Unusual?

Death penalty foes are quick with the powerful words "cruel and unusual," hoping to hand a Constitutional guilt on those of us who support the death penalty. It's never worked because for all their magic, mere words almost never can change deeply held convictions.

But experience can ... and I wonder if this story will change the thinking of death penalty advocates. BBC reports from Italy:
Hundreds of prisoners serving life sentences in Italy have called on President Giorgio Napolitano to bring back the death penalty.

Their request was published as a letter in the daily newspaper La Repubblica.

Italy has almost 1,300 prisoners serving life terms, of whom 200 have served more than 20 years.

Italy has been at the forefront of the fight against capital punishment and recently lobbied the UN Security Council to table a moratorium on it.

But at home some of the country's longest serving prisoners want the death penalty re-introduced.

'Light into shadows'

The letter they sent to President Napolitano came from a convicted mobster, Carmelo Musumeci, a 52-year-old who has been in prison for 17 years.

It was co-signed by 310 of his fellow lifers.

Musumeci said he was tired of dying a little bit every day. We want to die just once, he said, and "we are asking for our life sentence to be changed to a death sentence".
Is life imprisonment more cruel and unusual than a quick execution? For many, it must be. Musumeci is the type it would hurt the most: He lived the high-adrenaline life of a mobster, got thrown in prison where he re-applied his energy to earn a law degree. That's a lot of drive to be confined to the hopeless repetition of days that is his sentence.

And nearly a quarter of his fellow lifers feel the way he does.

Communist legislators (i.e., those that share the views of our current batch of Dem leaders) have a solution: Cap sentences at 30 years. It's actually an interesting concept because releasing a bunch of 55 to 85 year olds probably won't pose much threat to society, but morally, it's corrupt.

Death sentences are reserved for capital cases, and the only two possible punishments for murder are a life in return -- either a life behind bars, or a life that's terminated.

Death penalty foes should look at Italy and ask themselves about the nature of cruelty. If so many prisoners see a life sentence as more cruel than a death sentence, who are they to belittle the morality of death penalty supporters?

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