by Delina Cummings, Woman to Woman (All rights reserved) LISTEN TO AUDIO RECORDING click this link http://womantowomansite.blogspot.com/2010/09/teresa-lewiss-execution-another.html
“The key issue in capital punishment debate is whether it can actually lower the murder rate and save lives. Despite its inherent cruelty, capital punishment might be justified if it proved to be an effective deterrent that could save many lives.” (Senna,1998)
Virginia woman to be slain tonight another proof of the inefficacy of Capital Punishment
Tonight, while you have a fancy dinner with your date at a five star restaurant; or while you socialize with the so called elites; tonight while you sleep in your posh house, or you’re driving your posh car, tonight, some place, where someone is having a good time, a woman’s life will be taken by the state. The life of a borderline retarded woman, Teresa Lewis, will be snuffed out by a dose of lethal injection, as family of the murder victims watch, to their satisfaction. She has ordered her last meal: two chicken breasts, sweet peas with butter, a Dr. Pepper and either German cake or apple pie for dessert.
We know her crimes and we are aware of the penalty attached, but why do we still believe that executing one man for the vindication of another is the answer to crime?
After the people placed power in the hands of government and the state, these institutions became the arbiter of life and death. They argued and justified the death penalty as a deterrent to murder and other heinous crimes, for which death is the reward. But it is a trite argument that the death penalty is a deterrent. So what is it, then? Is it that we get a sense of peace and satisfaction from taking other people’s lives, to prove that we have the power over life, and to prove that we are doing something about crime?
Another look at capital punishment as a (so-called) deterrent
The purposes, the methods, the proportionality and effectiveness of punishment are among the essential considerations, but above all, perhaps, is the consideration of efficacy. We must be able to convince, without qualms, that the punishment meted out is effective in its purpose, and therefore justified. The punishment of death is no exception.
The death penalty is no doubt extreme in nature. Dubbed an “ultimate punishment,” it constitutes the infliction of death, by hanging, lethal injection, the gas chamber etc., on the murder convict. Its imposition for the crime of murder has had a long history of legal acceptance both in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
But the landmark case of Furman—v—Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) would come to question the constitutionality of capital punishment (lethal injection in this case), citing it as cruel and unusual punishment and therefore a clear violation of the constitutional rights of the citizen. Gregg—v—Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976) later confirmed the constitutionality of the death penalty.
On April 17, 2008, the U.S Supreme Court ruled against a challenge to the three-drug procedures in place in Kentucky that employs three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kills death row inmates. Similar methods are used by some three dozen states. The argument against the procedures is that if the initial anesthetic does not take hold, the other two drugs can cause excruciating pain. One of those drugs, a paralytic, would render the prisoner unable to express his discomfort.
In the meantime various states within the US continue to struggle with the question of constitutionality as well as attempts to abolish the death penalty, because of a consensus that the death penalty has failed as a deterrent. For legal positivists, such as John Austin and Jeremy Bentham, law is the command of the sovereign and derives efficacy from the mere threat of sanction.
Whether capital punishment is in accordance with right reason and acceptable moral standards depends on value judgments of the society and the collective conscience’s tolerance for crimes such as murder. But “The key issue in capital punishment debate is whether it can actually lower the murder rate and save lives. Despite its inherent cruelty, capital punishment might be justified if it proved to be an effective deterrent that could save many lives.” (Senna,1998).
“From a utilitarian point of view, the pain of punishment may be outweighed by its good consequences if it deters the offender from offending again, or if it can be made the occasion for reforming the offender, or if it results in a dangerous person being removed from society.” (J.W Harris 1980)
So the vital question which arises here is does the threat of the penalty of death deter people from committing murder?
The death penalty has been unsuccessful at being a deterrent, or as I put it, death-terrent, because people are still committing the crimes for which death is the recompense. If the death penalty is required for the protection of society, then there must be some degree of evidence that it largely produces the intended result. It has been argued that imprisonment has as much force upon the minds of those who are criminally inclined, as would a penalty of death. Perhaps, capital punishment is an effective deterrent for those who are not predisposed to commit crimes, those who had the opportunity to engage in that rational process of weighing the consequences of their acts or omissions, but a questionable deterrent for those who are criminally inclined.
Therefore, should a person who is mentally incapable to form the intention to kill, or to rationalize both the act and consequence of murder suffer the death penalty? Does he or she have the necessary mens rea to make him/her fully culpable for the crime committed? This was in essence the argument of Teresa’s lawyers. They put forward evidence showing that she was a borderline retard, though the court was not convinced that the evidence was enough to exculpate her, even as a mastermind of the murders committed and not the actual killer.
For now, those who subscribe to capital punishment may be guided by this absolute approach fraught with retributive principles:
“Whoever has committed murder must die…This ought to be done in order that everyone may realize the desert of his deeds, and that blood-guiltiness may not remain upon the people; for otherwise they might all be regarded as participators in the murder as a public violation of justice.” (Immanuel Kant)
UPDATE: A frightened Teresa was executed after final words to victims’ relative click link below
Read more on Teresa’s story click here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1314170/Supreme-Court-reject-Teresa-Lewis-death-row-appeal-Virginia.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
Save Teresa Website http://www.saveteresalewis.org/petition.html