My reasons for supporting the death penalty are visceral. I have actively promoted this issue, which stirs my passions as it spikes my emotions, for more than 20-years now. Whatever the outcome of the two death penalty propositions on California’s Election Day ballot (62 will abolish the death penalty in favor of life without parole while 66 will mend, not end the death penalty), I will continue to believe in the moral, spiritual, financial, and public safety benefits of this most extreme form of punishment.
During the 65-days between October 1 and December 4, 1993, I received a crash course in the nature of good and evil. That thousands of strangers would rally around a kidnapped child that most had never met was as pure an act of benevolence as I have ever witnessed. That a knife wielding sexually sadistic psychopath would steal my daughter from a slumber party, then rape and murder her so that he could avoid A.I.D.S. was a deed so dastardly, so evil, that it changed my life forever.
So, I was not surprised to learn at trial, that Polly’s killer once told Psychiatrist Llewelen Jones that he, “Masturbates twice daily and thinks of female victims of his past crimes.” That there are people who advocate for his life as he continues to violate my child twice daily in his death row cell is vile and repugnant. Her memory and soul deserve the peace that she will only receive after her killer has drawn his last breath of air.
Death penalty abolitionists will tell you that we need to look at the big picture, the totality of the issue, not anecdotes or stories taken out of context. However, Polly’s killer is simply a variation on a theme, as is my daughter’s story. All of California’s death row inmates have either murdered children (229), sexually assaulted and tortured their victims prior to murdering them (294), killed peace officers (43), or committed multiple murders. They are unrepentant killing machines: people like Ramon Salcido who slit the throats as he murdered his own children; Scott Peterson who killed his wife Lacy and the full term baby that she was carrying; or Joseph Naso who killed at least six women as he travelled the country for more than two decades. They weren’t driven to commit these crimes by drugs or alcohol. No, they were driven by a bankrupt moral compass to commit crime with impunity without consideration for the consequences of their actions.
The last inmate executed in California was a murder machine named Clarence Ray Allen. He was sentenced to life without parole for a murder he committed in 1974. As a means of getting even he orchestrated the assassination of 3-people he believed had ratted him out. In 2006, Allen was finally executed for those murders. He is no longer a threat to public safety.
Death penalty abolitionists advocate that the death penalty is indefensible, beneath the dignity of a civilized society and fails to serve as deterrence to murder and other violent crimes. They overlook the fact that young soldiers are regularly sent to war to kill or be killed, or that U.S. military drone strikes kill innocent people, or that we all applauded and stood a little taller when we learned about the death of Osama Bin Laden.
I believe that embracing evil, defending the indefensible, and advocating on behalf of sadism and psychopathy are misplaced priorities at best, and in league with the devil at its worst. When I hear abolitionists say that death row inmates “Are us, they’re our children. We are a community,” or that they “Are capable of becoming productive citizens if given the chance,” I think that they must live in an alternate universe.