Skip to comments.Clamoring to kill Malvo dead wrong
Posted on 10/30/2002 6:07:17 AM PST by where's_the_Outrage?
The dead felled by the snipers' three-week rampage deserved a dignified pursuit of justice, but they will not get it. The prospect of headlines and political advantage have proved too seductive for Washington-area prosecutors, who are practically trampling one another for the right to execute the accused. Their conduct is one more stain on the already mottled image of American jurisprudence.
It isn't supposed to be this way. In the history books and civic lessons -- the stories we teach our children about who we ought to be as a people -- those who carry out American justice are supposed to approach their duties with restraint and humility, out of respect for the awesome weight of their responsibilities. What, after all, can be more sobering than the prospect of putting a man to death?
But prosecutors in Maryland and Virginia -- not to mention the U.S. Department of Justice -- have been giddy with excitement about the prospect of wielding the executioner's sword. Their enthusiasm is all the more unseemly since one of the suspects, John Lee Malvo, is apparently only 17 years old.
Montgomery County (Md.) prosecutor Douglas Gansler apparently rushed out before the agreed-upon starting bell to file charges against Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 41. But Fairfax County (Va.) prosecutor Robert Horan, insisting that the two be tried first in his state, was contemptuous of Maryland's death penalty statutes. Not only has Maryland recently enacted a moratorium on executions, he noted, but its death penalty laws specifically exempt minors.
So far, few have dared suggest that Maryland's authorities may have acted wisely in setting aside the death penalty for juveniles. Such a statement would require courage, and few men or women who hope to further their political careers would dare throw themselves in front of the white-hot tide of vengeance that rises in the wake of crimes such as these.
If there is to be a death penalty in this country, there can be no argument about its fitness for any adult who carried out a diabolical three-week rampage that left 10 people dead and three, including a child, gravely wounded. If convicted, Muhammad could hardly hope for mercy.
But this nation ought to be nobler and wiser than to execute a young man not much older than the 13-year-old victim. No matter how eagerly -- or equally -- Malvo participated in the crime spree, he should not be judged equally culpable if he has not reached legal age.
We do not allow 17-year-olds to vote or drink or run for high political office. There is good reason for that. While the line between youth and adulthood is not as sharply drawn as age limits suggest, there is a common understanding that teenagers usually lack wisdom and maturity. Recently, scientific studies have begun to underscore that conventional wisdom, as researchers find evidence to suggest that the adolescent brain may undergo dramatic and unsteadying shifts in the areas that dictate decision-making and self-control.
Malvo may also have suffered an unstable home life that led him to seek validation from any father-figure who would give him the attention he craved. News reports suggest a boy who desperately needed an authority figure to guide him into manhood. Instead, it seems, young Malvo ended up with a psychopath who led him down the path to self-delusion and destruction.
That does not, of course, justify or explain the crimes attributed to him; if Malvo participated in the murders of innocents, he is well past rehabilitation, and society must be protected from him. The concerns of justice and public safety would both be satisfied with a sentence that forced Malvo -- again, if he is guilty -- to grow old and feeble behind bars.
But prosecutors seeking political advantage will only be satisfied with his death.
Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays.
BTW, for some reason Cynthia's Email address is not included at the end of her editorial. It used to be email@example.com
We also don't allow 17-year-olds to kill people, either. If this b!tch is so concerned about him, she ought to adopt him.
Once enraged, personal dignity on my part becomes irrelevant. My path runs straight to the source of the problem. I'll be happay to volunteer to chop off the litlle sonofabitch's head. We can talk about restoring serene dignit afterwards.
Justice would be that someone snuck up behind them when they weren't looking and blew a hole in them. What this writer wants is due process, and there is a world of difference between due process and justice.
Are the innocent victims still dead???? If we could hear their voices, would they agree???? We have to speak for them, hang the two snipers, sooner the better and I think the dead will applaud.
Typical liberal thought. If he was a good boy he would have found a way to stop the killings. Since he didn't we can rightly assume that he is evil and needs to be removed before he kills again. To top it off he's a mohammedan and our enemy in the present war.
God Save America (Please)
"Let the punishment fit the crime."
LOL, I like that.
Unfortunately she's more interested in wasting tax dollars on him.
Yet I would guess she is in favor of a teenage girls "right" to have an abortion without consulting her parents.
I want due process. I want the killers to end their miserable lives in prison. Soon. I strongly suspect that the killers are Muhammad and Malvo; let's have a fair trial, bring out the evidence and be sure. What this pinhead author wants is to find excuses for them, protect them from punishment. I'm not sure what her reasons are, but I suspect they are not noble. Could it be ... "race"?
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