A reader writes:
I’m not being snarky, but it is strange that there is a large media outcry over Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis but little mention of Texas’ execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer. As you surely remember, Brewer chained James Byrd Jr. to the bumper of his pickup truck and dragged him to death in 1998. Brewer’s execution causes no outrage because, well, he deserved it?
I read the news report that Davis might have been innocent of the murder of a police officer. The case against Brewer was much stronger. But aren't both executions cruel and unusual punishment? The hideousness of the death penalty to me is
1) That it doesn’t deter capital murder.
2) Due to the agonizing appeals process, it takes decades to actually execute someone. For example, Richard Allen Davis, the killer of Polly Klaas, was sentenced to death in 1996 and is still on death row.
3) It is hideously expensive. California spends $63.3 million a year to house 670 death row inmates. Over $90,000 per inmate.
4) The death penalty supposedly satisfies society’s need for deliver retributive justice for hideous crimes of murder. But shouldn’t retribution be swift? It took Texas 13 years to execute Lawrence Brewer for his crimes, Georgia 20 years to execute Troy Davis, and California hasn’t executed Richard Allen Davis.
Why do we insist on the death penalty then? For that few seconds of satisfaction we get when the sentenced is announced? Life without parole then seems just as effective as the death penalty. It protects society from vicious criminals in a way that’s humane, morally justifiable, and is more cost-effective.
Along those lines, a reader points to a compelling YouTube:
Thought you should see this. Lawrence O’Donnell makes the point that no one else is making. So eloquent. He’s Keith Olbermann without the snark.
(Photos of Byrd and Brewer)