Saturday, May 21, 2005

Texas rejects life without parole.

I didn't know this but apparently Texas doesn't have a life without parole sentencing option. That means that juries get a forced choice between a life sentence in which the convicted person will be eligible for parole within 40 years and a death sentence. It should come as no shock that this results in a ton of death sentences, since that's the only alternative to releasing people on the street again. Maybe that's why statisticians compare Texan executions by the country to numbers in other states.

Unfortunately, measures to create some alternative between a straight up life sentence and capital punishment are foundering in the Texas legislature. Here's a good quote from one of the people who opposes life without parole:
"If you take away the ultimate penalty, maybe it's not enough of an incentive to stay out of trouble," said Rep. Beverly Woolley, a Houston Republican.
These assholes are so callous that they don't even care about getting people off the streets. They want to kill people for the sake of killing people when there are more reasonable alternatives that arguably get people off the street and deter just as well as the death penalty.

Not that that will matter given the fact that none of these assholes seems to care that no study indicates an additional deterrent value to the death penalty or can find an increase in homicides in states that have abolished it. Recent studies showing the opposite have been notoriously fraught with error. Death penalty support is a good example of people attempting to search for post facto rationalizations for affective orientations. No matter how many problems can be shown with the system or how terrible of a job the death penalty does with preventing crime, they will find new ad hoc reasons to support it due to the artificial sense of security that it provides them, the lives that get in the way be damned. Yes, life without parole is horrible and the prison system is really, really messed up, but at the very least it provides a pragmatic path that offers the potential of giving someone part of their life back. Prisons definitely are in need of radical reform, but I'd rather have the option of a life sentence rather than a hasty rush to kill someone.

Culture of life? What a crock of shit.

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