There can be little or no doubt that the death penalty has never proven to be a deterrent to the commission of crime [Locals celebrate the end of the death penalty, News, March 16]. The further facts that shoddy convictions, poor legal representation and the socioeconomics of many of the people on death row have made its implementation problematic at best. That said, the sense of celebration over the decision to repeal its use is inappropriate. Thoughtful reflection would be the better attitude.
One needs only to read the sidebar article on page 16 of the Journal to appreciate why this attitude should be the norm. Having been a resident in the neighborhood where Catherine McAvinchey lived and was murdered, the brutality of the crime and the sense of fear it put into my fellow neighbors is still palpable. The execution of the confessed and convicted murderer, Rodney Adkins, would not bring Ms. McAvinchey back to life, nor probably bring much, if any, joy to her surviving family members. But to have such a sense of public rejoicing that the execution will not occur is an insult to their loss and the life that was interrupted.
It will be argued that Mr. Adkins will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole. Given that the "no possibility of parole" remains in place, Mr. Adkins will at least be alive. He will have access to food, clean clothing and universal health care. Ms. McAvinchey will remain dead. These cold facts deserve muted joy.
At least we now know the value of a human life in the state of Illinois. It is the roughly $320 Mr. Adkins received by selling the property he stole from Ms. McAvinchey's condominium. Revenue he is purported to have used to purchase drugs, alcohol and lottery tickets. Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Corrections reports an annual cost of $23,000 per inmate. Should Mr. Adkins live to the biblical three score and ten, he will cost the people of Illinois $506,000. Are these not scarce resources that could be spent on more productive activities whose outcomes could be unmitigated celebration?
Thoughtful reflection is required.
Joseph T. Smith
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