If Dru Sjodin was raped and murdered by Alfonso Rodriguez, would there be any punishment other than death that comports with our innate sense of justice? The sense of justice that calls for some proportion between crime and punishment?
In the column Rocket Man links to below, Doug Grow quotes my attorney friend John Bessler, who has written three books on capital punishment, as observing that “there’s no evidence that the death penalty makes a state safer.” Grow asks: “Should Minnesota become even more like Texas than it already has in the past few years by becoming a death penalty state? Texas is the nation’s runaway execution leader. It has one of the highest murder rates in the country. Minnesota has one of the lowest. ‘There may be an emotional appeal to capital punishment,’ Bessler said. ‘But you’d hope the governor would look at the facts.'”
If Rodriguez is guilty of the rape and murder of Dru Sjodin and were subject to the death penalty, it is a certainty that his death would prevent him from committing these heinous crimes again. If Rodriguez had been subject to the death penalty for his prior offenses, it is a certainty that it would have prevented him from committing these heinous offenses against Dru Sjodin.
The infrequency and delays with which the death penalty is applied necessarily make arguments about deterrence — other than the ontologically certain deterrence achieved as to the particular offender in a given case — difficult to resolve. But if Rodriguez committed these offenses against Dru Sjodin, is there any other punishment that fits the crime?
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