Friday, December 10, 2010

Strap 'Em Down!

The opposition by some--mostly on the left--to the death penalty makes my head spin. Dennis Prager makes an excellent case for capital punishment which I could not possibly improve upon here, so I won't try. I'll keep it simple: some people do things that are so heinous--that so shock our conscience, torture our imagination, and offend our very humanity to its core--that they deserve to die.

Take the case of Elizabeth Smart.

After attending an award ceremony at her school on the evening of June 4, 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart settled into her bed in the affluent Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah. That evening, actually the wee hours of June 5, Brian David Mitchell broke into bedroom that Elizabeth shared with her 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, stuck a knife to her throat, and forced the young teen to leave with him.

Smart was found alive, still a prisoner of Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, some nine months later on March 12, 2003, in Sandy, Utah. She had been transported around with the couple and forced to "marry" Mitchell. She was raped repeatedly by him, often several times a day, for the duration of her captivity. From Wikipedia:

According to Smart's October 1, 2009 US federal court testimony, after Smart had gone to bed on June 4, 2002, a man Smart identified as Brian Mitchell had entered her bedroom and had "placed his hand on my chest and then put the knife up to my neck. He told me to get up quietly and if I didn't then he would kill me and my family. He was whispering, but it was still loud enough it could wake someone. He was dressed in sweats, sweatshirt, stocking cap, tennis shoes." After Smart had been led to Mitchell's camp in the woods, a woman Smart identified as Wanda Barzee "eventually just proceeded to wash my feet and told me to change out of my pajamas into a robe type of garment. And when I refused, she said if I didn't, she would have Brian Mitchell come rip my pajamas off. I put the robe on. He came and performed a ceremony, which was to marry me to him. After that, he proceeded to rape me."

It was later revealed during court testimony that Mitchell repeatedly raped Smart, sometimes multiple times daily and forced her to watch pornographic films. He often forced her to drink alcohol to lower her resistance. Once, when she vomited after drinking a large portion of alcohol, she was forced to sleep face-down in the vomit.

Now, in what universe should this piece of shit be kept alive? Does anyone seriously believe that someone who can kidnap & repeatedly rape a child can be "rehabilitated"? Does anyone believe that there is a realistic chance that a day will come when this man will be able to be safely released into society? If that was possible, is that a just outcome? Elizabeth Smart's life is ruined. She is undoubtedly coping the best she can with the help and love of friends and family, and I'm sure she has gradually gotten back to some semblance of a normal life. But this ordeal will, unarguably, be with her forever. The common understanding of the aftermath of brutal childhood trauma tells us that Elizabeth will likely have flashbacks, nightmares, and trouble with relationships and intimacy for the rest of her life. No matter how well she copes with this nine-month nightmare that was inflicted upon her, Elizabeth will probably look over her shoulder more than the rest of us usually do. In some very real ways, Elizabeth Smart will never be completely free of Brian David Mitchell. Is it just that he should ever be free, no matter how long his sentence?

More to the point, is it just that Brian David Mitchell should live? Isn't it far more just that Elizabeth Smart should never have to worry about the possibility, however small, that Mitchell will ever be released or escape? I think so. Doesn't she deserve the peace of mind of knowing that the man who brutalized her so horribly is dead, never to harm her or anyone else, ever? I think so. Doesn't society at large deserve the same peace of mind? Again, I think so.

According to the National Institute of Corrections, in 2009, it cost the taxpayers of the state of Utah approximately $30,594 per year to house an inmate in the Utah state prison system. Depending on the statistics one looks at, the average life expectancy of a man born in the US in 1953 (as Mitchell was) is 66 years. As of now, 2010, Mitchell is 57.

66 - 57 = 9 years
9 years x $30,594 = $275,346
That's assuming he only lives to 66, and it in no way accounts for any extraordinary medical expenses he will rack up if he develops heart problems, cancer, or whatever. It also does not account for the money the state will blow fighting the inevitable appeals to his sentence (he faces up to life in prison). Is there anyone who couldn't think of a better use for $275,346 (again, minimum)? A homeless shelter? An animal shelter? The Salvation Army? Shit, I'd rather have a bonfire with it than use it to keep a psychotic animal like Brian David Mitchell alive for one single minute.

In my view of the world, if you are capable of kidnapping & raping a child, humanity cannot and should not abide your continued existence on this planet. You offend, dirty and lower the entire human herd with your presence, and eliminating you elevates us all and makes the world a better place.

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