Thursday, March 19, 2009

The true punishment isn't death

I may well have said this before, but I don’t believe in the death penalty for any criminals, no matter how heinous their crime. Now, I’m no mushy-hearted advocate of human rights for cold-blooded rapists and murderers – I firmly believe that if someone takes the life of another person without extreme provocation (like being physically or mentally tortured for years, or abused, or violently attacked, etc), they automatically forfeit all rights to a life that has any sort of comfort or entertainment or human contact. If their victim cannot ever have these rights, their murderer certainly shouldn’t either. Also, going by that same reasoning, a quick death would be too good for such criminals. They should live their entire life locked away with only the basic minimum to sustain life, and no amount of convenient repentance should bring any respite.

(The other reason that I don’t believe in the death penalty is that in case there has been a miscarriage of justice and someone has been wrongly imprisoned, at least they will be alive to be released when the mistake comes to light. A posthumous pardon and release would do no good whatsoever, would it?)

Anyway, when I started this post, I had in mind Josef Fritzl, who has declared himself guilty of incest, rape and murder and accepted that he treated his daughter with the utmost cruelty for a good quarter of a century. He is 73 years old and I personally would like him to spend the rest of his natural life shut away from humanity, preferably in a dank underground cellar with no natural light and no access in any way – through radio, TV, newspapers, etc - to the outside world. That should be fitting punishment for Fritzl’s inhuman behaviour to his own daughter. Any human rights campaigners who feel sorry for Fritzl can keep him company there if they feel strongly enough about it.

Granted that no amount of punishment for Fritzl is going to mitigate the suffering his daughter underwent; nothing will turn back time, nothing will change the horrible truth of the circumstances of their conception for his 6 grandchildren who are also, in the most awful way possible, his own children. But putting him to death will mean that while their suffering goes on, he will have escaped the consequences of his actions. No, the best thing would be to keep Fritzl alive – in prison, though, not in a psychiatric hospital. The rest of his life spent in prison will give him, hopefully, plenty of time to think over his past. No amount of repentance is enough.

That said, there are plenty of Fritzl-like human beings in this world - not just in Austria. Maybe not all of them have imprisoned their own daughter in a nightmare cellar in their own home, but there are enough ongoing victims of incest and abuse whose nightmare hasn’t ended and probably will never even come to light, and whose abusers will never be punished.


kowthas said...

You right. The guy deserves to live his punishment. When I read this article, I was aghast. What kind of a low-life would do such a thing. Disgusting.

As far as capital punishment, am not sure. Some criminals are just not worth the time me thinks..


Pollux aka Paps said...

The problem is the money that is used up, tax-payer money, mind you, to keep these creatures alive.
I too dont believe in the death penalty, but on the other hand, I sometimes cant help thinking of all the resources that are wasted to keep people like Fritzl alive. And to this day, I simply cannot understand how his wife did not know anything. Not even when he started abusing his daughter when she was 11? And this was 7 years before he actually imprisoned her in the basement.
And her own house, her own basement and she lived there, for God's sake!!

just another mommy said...

I agree with PaP's statement above. A lot such heinous crimes exist. If we were to pay them back with their own medicine, I think it would prove to be too expensive to execute.

When the incident first came to light...I was so horrified for days. How could a man do that to his daughter?
I look at my son and the love that pours forth is so intense, I would kill myself before I could harm a single hair on his head. The poor girl(lady) has just had one of the worst lives in the history of human race!

Kamini said...

No punishment is ever enough for the likes of these monsters. But I am complete agreement with you that the death penalty is not the answer. I don't know what constitutes adequate punishment for these people, it makes me MAD just thinking about them. He needs to live out the rest of his miserable little life and be tortured by his memories.

Kamini said...

Oops! I left a comment and it looks like it has vanished! Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I completely agree with you. The death penalty is not the answer, and is the easy way out for these monsters. These people need to live out the rest of their miserable lives, torturing themselves with their memories of their deeds.

Richard Crawford said...

I agree with you completely. There are not many documented cases of an innocent person being executed, but there are a few, and that's too many.

In response to Pollux, I should point out that the death penalty -- at least in the United States -- is not cheap. The appeals process is lengthy (as it should be, to prevent the possibility of an innocent person being put to death), and the length of time between sentencing and execution can be years, during which time the convict must be cared for, fed, given adequate mental care, and so on. I sometimes think the death penalty in the US is extremely cost-inefficient but it kept around for our unhealthy taste for blood.

Teesu (very very Indian, very very good) said...

This is really very complicated for me. First I thought they (terrible wrong-doers) SHOULD have the death penalty. Then for some really terrible folks, I felt they should be executed in public to put some fear into like-sick-minded folks. Maintaining them like how they allegedly do in some prisons abroad is a criminal waste of money ...for criminals!

Anonymous said...

They don't deserve to live or die a quick death. They should be slowly tortured and killed.
(No, am not a psycho).