Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Do We Do With This?

This dude (photo: MSNBC) is Michael Richard Swanson, a 17 year old from Minnesota. He is a suspect in the murder of two convenience store clerks in Iowa. The clerks gave this little creep everything he requested, but he killed them "to keep them from calling the cops." Here's the story from MSNBC.

Today, also, the Kansas City Missouri Police reported that they have two 17 year olds under arrest in the murder of Helen Ragen of south Kansas City. The two young men have confessed that they had had a "beef" with a twenty-something Black man. They believed that that person lived at the Regan house. To get back at this perceived wrong, they shot blindly over 30 shots into the home, striking Ms. Ragen and killing her. Here is the story from the Kansas City Star.

It is so hard when looking at the stories of the actions of these severely morally impaired people and not want the death penalty, not want vengeance. These types of people have been around since sin came to the forefront in the Garden. Barring a total spiritual make over, they will be destined to repeat their moral failures, creating a trail of victims where ever they go. The only way to stop them, absent that radical change, is to kill them, or separate them from society forever. Even if they were to regain their moral "North Star," they still need to pay for the harm they inflicted when they were acting so sinfully, selfishly and antisocially.

What say you? What do we do with individuals who have fallen away so far from common decency and respect for life?


Capt. Schmoe said...

A homicide dick once told me: "Schmoe, some pups are so bad, they just need to be put to sleep."

He was referring to a teen-aged sex offender that was a suspect in a sex-crime case he was working on. The case made him sick.

While I totally agree with him on an emotional level, there is something repugnant about executing a 17 year old kid, vile as he might be.

On a pragmatic level, the death penalty process has become so cumbersome that it has become ineffective on every level.

Thus, LWOPP (life without possibility of parole) is an effective option that permanently keeps the worst offenders away from us until death, without the circus that the death penalty brings.

Plus, it's easier to lock a 17 yr old up for life than it is to sentence one to death.

Unless you are in Texas.

Bob G. said...

Morally-impaired doesn;t even BEGIN to cover such people OR their actions.
You're being too kind.

While vengeance might not be the moral answer to the problem, ther IS a solution.
We used to call it PUNISHMENT.
And if by punishing these sociopaths, we deny them the life they so needlessly have taken from innocent people, I'm really OK with that.
Capt. Schmoe is right about the "red tape" aspect to the death penalty. Too much of it.

But if they are to be incarcerated FOR LIFE, than these perps HAVE to (also) do HARD TIME, and not sit around for decades at the cost of the taxpayer (doing nothing but passing time).
They have to ATONE at some level...if only to provide closure for the victims and families involved.

But that's just my thoughts.

Good post.

dharmabum2009 said...

Killing a human is killing a human no matter how you pretty it up. It makes no sense from a moral, spiritual, or practical standpoint to continue the practice of killing others. It clearly lowers us as a society to the same moral level as this boy.

He is obviously not ok and needs to be removed from society and placed where he can do no more harm to others.

the observer said...

As a Christian, I believe that redemption is possible, until you die. Your opportunity for a change in heart and moral position ends at death. Death closes the door to transformation.

I also believe that value for life has to be consistent, across the board. If I value the life of unborn babies, if I worry about the rights of the elderly to gain appropriate health care, if I worry about the slippery slope of euthanasia, it is not consistent for me to be in favor of the death penalty.

Generally speaking then, I am not in favor of the death penalty, even in these horrific cases. The punishment must be real, vivid, consistent and long however. It ought to involve labor. It ought not to be cushy. It needs to keep sociopaths out of society as they cannot morally function with the rest of us.

Generally, this is the way I lean. I appreciate everyone's comments--it is not an easy subject to think on especially with youthful offenders.

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I also have mixed feelings about the death penalty. I think it always represents a failure--it acknowledges that society has failed to raise a person right, and society has no good way to "fix" anything in regard to this person.

That said, I am often for the death penalty (not as practiced today). I think prison has turned into early-release, and also fails to teach anything or give anything.

So I think the penalty is the wrong place to start. I think an incarceration overview is the place to start. The system is flat not working. If we could devise one that worked, the question of the death penalty would fit in its proper place.

I think about how prison has become an expectation and a life plan in parts of society. That it seems to be barely controlled by legitimate force and is very controlled by gangs, for instance.

We got trouble.
Thanks for a chance to think it through,
Ann T.