When biology professor Amy Bishop was denied tenure at the University of Alabama in 2010, she took a gun to the conference room and killed several of her colleagues. This week, she pleaded guilty to that crime and was sentenced to life in prison. Though her crime was a capital offense and could easily have warranted the death penalty, the strong opposition to that punishment by the victims' families spared her.
It's kind of an amazing thing, really. Bishop has claimed she doesn't remember the crime and has said she will throw up if she looks at photos of the aftermath -- the bodies of her victims, whom she shot in the heads, lying in pools of blood. And yet, she has also been declared mentally competent, albeit "wired wrong." She couldn't get off on an insanity defense.
Instead, the people who saved her are the very ones who should -- and probably do -- hate her the very most. But it's with good reason.
No one could doubt that the death penalty serves a purpose in society. It exacts revenge in the biblical sense. An eye for an eye, indeed. But it also doesn't bring back the people lost and it ends the suffering for the murderer quickly.
Personally, if I ever committed a capital crime, I would prefer the death penalty to spending the rest of my days locked up and confined. Anyone probably would. I doubt prison life is any great shakes and Bishop has to live every day with the remorse she is said to feel acutely.
Personally, I think that is a more fitting punishment. Because let's face it: there is NO punishment that could possibly do what all the victims hope. There is no punishment that could bring back the one they loved so much.
Bishop's life was spared because the victims don't believe in the death penalty for her. But that doesn't mean they don't think she should be punished. Her punishment may be far worse than death.
If your loved one was killed, would you want the death penalty?
Image via DonkeyHotey/Flickr