Saturday, February 23, 2008

It is really a death penalty or life in prison?

Patrick Stollar of Washington was sentenced to death the other day for the exceedingly brutal 2003 murder of an elderly Upper St. Clair woman. I have serious doubts whether I'll still be alive when that sentence is carried out. The reason for my doubts? For one, there are three Washington County killers - Roland Steele, Tippy Wallace and Thomas Gorby - who all have been on death row for the past 20 years. Secondly, the last person executed in this state was Philadelphia "House of Horrors" killer Gary Heidnik, and that was nearly a decade ago. Third, as of Jan. 1, 2007, there were 226 people on Pennsylvania's death row, and apparently not a single one of them has exhausted his or her appeals, even though some have been facing a death sentence for more than a QUARTER CENTURY. If we are to have a death penalty - and that's a whole other argument - what justice is there in it if the person sentenced to die is more likely to succumb to old age? My opinion is that people sentenced to death should be given every opportunity to challenge their conviction, whether it be through access to DNA testing or public financing of top-notch lawyers to handle those appeals. But they should be required to make any and ALL arguments they have in a single appeal, not a never-ending series of usually-frivolous filings, and never should it take 25 years for this process to be completed. In cases like Stollar's, in which he admitted killing the woman, though claiming a mental defect, the process should be a very short one. Perhaps those who contemplate a murder would be much less likely to commit the crime if they knew that the time lapse between their victim's death and their own could be a very short one.



Blogger PRIguy said...

As I read this entry, I was already creating my response in my head. I was all set to state my very simple approach to the death penalty when Brant summed it up for me.

My theory: if convicted, you get ONE appeal. Originally, I always said the appeal would be over in a week, but I'm feeling generous today and I'll adjust the time allowed to one month. That should give ample time for DNA or whatever other possible rebuttals the defense can bring to be brought to the fore. If the defendant is convicted again, he should be allowed to say goodbye to his supporters and family - but while securely shackled at his hands and feet. Give the piece of garbage five minutes with his family (again, I'm being generous here) and then hook him up to the electric chair. I don't believe in lethal injection because I firmly believe that if someone is convicted of murder, he or she should suffer. And don't tell me that lethal injection is cruel.

To sum up, convict, appeal, fry or go free.

If criminals knew that certain and quick death awaited them for particular crimes, I'm certain there would be a reduction in those crimes. For the record, crimes punishable by death in my book are murder, rape, and child molestation. Say what you will about the death penalty, but I can promise you that if you fry someone's brains out, he or she will never, ever commit another crime.

February 23, 2008 at 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear Hear, I am glad to hear that there are others out there that think like me. I total agree that the punsihment should be carried out relatively quickly after the sentence. It is bull crap that these people who obviously showed little or no mercy to their victims get to sit comfortably in a prison for years on end.

I will never understand the bleeding heart liberals that don't believe in the death penalty. The reason other countries have less capital crimes than the US is because they believe once you commit a crime of that nature you no longer have any rights except the right to die for it.

February 25, 2008 at 11:27 AM  

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