usually you read articles of people who are pro-death penalty changing to anti-death penalty, not the other way around. this is an article of a woman whose husband’s cousin was killed who swapped views.
I was in court for the penalty phase, and as I listened to witnesses testify on his behalf, I was surprised at how indifferent I was to his personal plight. I didn’t much care that his family had escaped from Vietnam and that he’d had problems assimilating to American culture, or that his parents had a difficult time keeping him out of trouble.
Before this happened, I likely would have argued that this young defendant had extenuating circumstances beyond his control. But not anymore. Maybe it’s because my daughter is almost the same age as Constantine was when he was killed, or maybe it’s because the reality of experience trumps theoretical beliefs. Whatever the reason, when I looked at the young man sitting at the defense table, I didn’t see a victim. All I saw was the man who took my family member’s life.
to me this brings up a valuable point, made very well in a debate prep session on the west wing (yes, i do watch other things… none the less, the point is well made in the following dialogue:)
Mr. President, this next question is on capital punishment, which you oppose: If your youngest daughter Zoey was raped and murdered, would you not want to see the man responsible put to death?
First of all, it’s important to understand the President doesn’t make that decision, though he appoints the Supreme Court Justices who do so. What… any… um… All right, I’m not going to say that. I’ll just go right to… No, I don’t. I think you know that I’m opposed…. [sighs] Let’s not do that. I haven’t seen any evidence that it’s a deterrent, and there are more effective… In my state…
Oh, my God.
What’s the matter with you? When I left you… I just mentioned your daughter being murdered, and you’re giving us an answer that’s not only soporific, it’s barely human! Yes, you’d want to see him put to death. You’d want it to be cruel and unusual, which is why it’s probably a good idea that fathers of murder victims don’t have legal rights in these situations.
i suppose my point is this: i completely understand where this woman is coming from, but i don’t believe it makes her position right. were someone to kill someone close to me, i would likely want them to suffer, but our justice system is not based on my feelings – rather it should be based on fairness, impartiality, and respect for human life.