'Celebration' too strong a word on death penalty

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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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
Oak Park

Reader Comments

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brian slowiak from oak park  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 10:55 AM

John Gacy should have been spared to paint another day in prison. none of the death row inmates pleaded innocence. they all pleaded procedural violations. Gov. Dim spoke only to 2 of the victims families. Gov. Dim did not look into each death row case Gov. Dim did not take time to read Sen. Kirk Dillards exhaustive report on the death penalty. Safe guards to the death penalty have been ignored. Bill Knunkle, who prosecuted Gacy is quoted, "The most aweful sentence for the most awful offenders"

Frank  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 10:16 AM

I wanted to add a paraphrase of your statement, "There can be little or no doubt that 'life without possibility of parole' has never proven to be a deterrent to the commission of crime." When the celebrants offer that kind of logic, it appears as trying to bolster a weak argument. I'm all for revising sentencing and punishments - if better alternatives are proposed. Life without possibility of parole does not fit the severity of crimes such as this.

Frank  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 6:33 AM

The celebration seemed inappropriate to me as well. My biggest problem with the people trying to abolish the idea of capital punishment, is their lack of any appropriate alternatives. Life in prison unfortunately doesn't suffice as punishment in cases where especially brutal crimes have been committed. And as you pointed out, we have to spend $506,000 to keep 'an eye on him' and provide health care that not even every law-abiding citizen has.

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