Sunday, October 28, 2007

Restorative Justice....

Warning: This post is stuffed full of my personal political views. :)

I've been giving some thought to the death penalty lately and something in particular triggered it off this morning.

The United Methodist Church has created a form that gives a person the option of informing prosecutors posthumously that in the event we become a victim of homicide that we do not want them to seek the death penalty against the perpetrator.

I have signed one of those forms.

This is a bit closer to home for me than for some. In the early 90s, someone tried to kill me.

Yes, I was an intended homicide victim.

I don't want to go into all the details because they're not important. What matters is that I've felt the feelings. I know what it is like to want revenge. My life was torn in shreds by the experience. I had to leave in the middle of the night and drive all the way across the country. I lost everything I owned with the exception of the things I could carry in a green garbage bag. It took months before I stopped looking behind me.

That is because I knew the person would be back. The failed attempt was just that.. a failed attempt that would be put right at the earliest opportunity.

I've looked into the face of evil. It has a lasting effect.

I wanted to kill that person. If I am to be brutally honest, at one point it seemed like a viable option. I seriously considered homicide because I didn't see any other way out. The police couldn't protect me. I'm in the wrong social class for that. I couldn't afford to hire security staff. I was a sitting duck.

Does that experience give me the right to lobby legislators who craft public policy, based on my feelings alone?

I certainly hope not. A society where personal feelings of anger and vengeance determine the laws of the land would not be a place I'd want to live.

The US is one of the final holdouts of the industrialized nations in doing away with the death penalty.

The nation that so proudly declares itself a Christian nation still kills people to prove that killing people is wrong. I have studied the Bible and I can not imagine any way to spin Jesus as being pro-death penalty. Of course the precepts of my faith do not allow killing. There is simply no justification for it, beyond (perhaps) self-defense.

One of the arguments I frequently hear is that society needs to be protected.

Life Without Parole will do that.

What say you?

I may not post again until November 1 when NaBloPoMo begins. If everyone hasn't had their fill of me yet, they will get it then. :)



Rimarama said...

Chani, I am so sorry about what happened to you. I hope you are safe now (as safe as anyone can be.)

I am both in awe and slightly disturbed by the form you describe. What does it say about our society that it makes sense to even think about drawing up such a document?

And I agree with you about the death penalty, I only wish that life without parole was just that - life without parole. Often, it is a much shorter sentence.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is one of the burning questions of my life, one I have debated with myself for a very long time.

In my teens, I read "Reflexions sur la Guillotine" by Albert Camus. It influenced me profoundly. His arguments against the death penalty were the first time I had come upon the seemingly simple concept that execution is murder, too.

I clung to this idea strongly for many years, but there seems to have been an increase in sex crimes against children often culminating in murder, and I find myself conflicted.

While believing in non-violence against living beings, still I am so reviled by such crimes that I am no longer certain that life in prison w/o parole is always effective. Jailbreaks, influencing others from their cells to commit similar crimes, and the overcrowding of prisons which tends to make parole boards more lenient concern me.

A life sentence is not always a life sentence.

Still, my soul cringes at the inhumanity of state-sanctioned murder. I think that if vengeance were motivating me, I would consider a long prison sentence a worse punishment than a quick death, so my concerns really are based more in practicality. Such people must never again be allowed to terrorize innocent members of the population.

The better solution (to execution) would be to improve our prison systems, enlarge the facilities so that they can accommodate all offenders for as long as they need to be there, and to strengthen the commitment of parole boards not to let them out early because their cell is needed for somebody else.

flutter said...

This is too close to home for me to discuss, but I wanted you to know I am reading.

SUEB0B said...

I am against the death penalty, too. Creating more pain doesn't solve the pain that already exists. Another reason is that, in general, only poor people get executed. How is that justice?

blooming desertpea said...

The only argument pro death sentence for me would be that it could lessen the criminality in the long, one that has been increasing in the last decade - having said that, I can't really say that I am a hundred percent convinced that it would help.

Julie Pippert said...

In the early 90s, my mother answered my phone at my apartment. She'd flown in to visit me, for my birthday. My mother and I, with only 20 years between us, sound quite similar.

My stalker mistook her for me.

"Hello Julie," he said to her, menacingly as always, "Happy day of your birth...and your death."

As you'd expect, she freaked out.

Unlike relationship stalkers, mine was an early serial killer stalker, or so said the police.

I was his second "victim."

He hadn't escalated to killing, yet. The terror was still enough.

So he terrorized me.

And we all waited for him to try to kill me, because that's what we did then. And now. Not much has changed. Unfortunately.

The police assigned me a case number and duly processed all evidence, such as his tap on my phone line and the dead animals on my porch.

The saddest loss was our sweet dog.

I was young and foolish enough to not let it impact me too much. And maybe that saved me because ultimately he moved on. Somehow, I wasn't a good victim.

I feel both good for me and sad for the next one, because there was a next one.

Still, I am against the death penalty, despite an attempt on my life.

I want justice, but death doesn't seem to be it.

Good topic, Chani.

Let's explore it more.

Using My Words

jen said...

wow. what terror you must have been through.

i've always, always disagreed with the death penalty. it just doesn't seem to right the wrongs, no matter how wrong they were.

slouching mom said...

Not only am I vehemently opposed to the death penalty, but I spent a summer in high school volunteering for the ACLU, working on one of their (anti-) death penalty projects.

I find the death penalty abhorrent -- morally primitive.

crazymumma said...

This is a tough one Chani as I am a vengeaful creature.

But one who tries to do better by thinking better thoughts. I like the idea of life without parole. (I assume that is what your person got?). And I hate the idea of an institute having the power to kill a person.

But. If my children were harmed in ANY way. That my dearest peaceful Chani. That is an entirely different story.

slouching mom said...

Oh, and I'm terribly sorry that you had to go through that -- and julie, and flutter. Sigh.

painted maypole said...

i too am against the death penalty.

Are you safe now, from this person that tried to kill you? terrifying.

Anvilcloud said...

I as under 20 in an evangelical church when I argued against capital punishment in a contemporary issues class. I wasn't alone. I think it's more of a conservative thing than a "Christian" one. No, they're not he same thing although many would have us believe that they are.

Pam said...

First, in regard to your experience, I have looked into a similar abyss and am sorry you had to endure such horror.

As for the death penalty, I want to say that I agree but wonder how I would feel if someone harmed one of my grandchildren.

Snoskred said...

I'm against it. Have you read Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean?

I too am sorry this was your experience.


Anonymous said...

I did not know of that form. Interesting. I hope one never has to be put to the test in court.

I hope I am never put to the test either. I know the death penalty is not the answer, but as hot-headed as I am, expedience would be an attractive initial response.

Christine said...

i am against the death penalty but i admit to being lucky enough to not had experienced a loss due to murder. i think i can understand the feeling of wanting and eye for an eye, but i can't imagine actually going through with it.

Carla said...

I am so sorry that you (or anyone for that matter) had to go through such a traumatic experience. It must have been horrible.

Janet said...

I'm sorry that you had to be terrorized in that way.

I'm against the death penalty although I often wonder whether my views would change if someone I loved was touched by heinous crime. For now it seems like a primitive response.

Catherine said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow.

I'm so sorry you had to experience that, so sorry that you know what that feels like.

I'm pretty sure I'm against the death penalty. I'm at least 98% against. But having grown up in Christian/Republican/pro-death-penalty America, I can also understand the reasoning behind those who are for it. But you know me, always trying to understand why people believe what they do.

I think this is a fantastic post, and I'm grateful you wrote it.

Emily R said...

First, I am so sorry you went through that.

Second, one of my biggest issues with the death penalty is that it creates a society in which it is sometimes OK to kill someone (who wishes to remain alive). And that is not a good message to send.

seventh sister said...

This is a complicated issue as Heart has pointed out. I am not proud of the fact that Texas executes more prisoners than any other state. We have a judge who is being investigated for not imposing a stay when there were still appeals that had not been made. We also had a notorious killer who was some how let out of jail by the parole board when our prisons were over crowded and then killed several others in most viscous ways. Still, I don't think the death penalty is the answer. I think it makes killers out of all of us. I would rather see drugs leagalized or at least decrimilized so that our over burdened judicial system would have a chance of functioning in an efficient manner.