My gut reaction to the death penalty is that it's always wrong. That there's nothing that can justify it, and that it's state-sanctioned murder. But the scheduled execution of a Florida cop-turned-vigilante-killer makes me wonder if sometimes, just sometimes, the death penalty is the right thing to do.
Manuel Pardo was a decorated police officer before being fired for lying and going on a killing spree, murdering nine people over three months, and now he's scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on December 11. As I've said, murder = bad. But the reasons he says he did it gives me chills. I don't know if I am comfortable with this man being on this Earth.
At his trial, Pardo said he liked killing his victims. "They're parasites and they're leeches, and they have no right to be alive," he said. "Somebody had to kill these people." He also asked the jury to give him the death penalty, calling himself a soldier.
Um, no. You're not a soldier. You're a cold-blooded killer who enjoys murdering innocent people. Leeches? Can someone who thinks that about other human beings ever see things differently and be rehabilitated? I honestly don't know.
When I saw the movie Dead Man Walking with a friend in college, I left the theater sobbing. I cried as we walked down the street back to the dorms and my friend was mystified that I was so upset. He thought the guy deserved it. He murdered people. He deserved to die. I just couldn't see it that way.
But now that I've got two nieces, two beautiful girls for whom I would probably do absolutely anything, the dangerous people in the world seem much more dangerous to me. Men who go on killing sprees, who think they're real-life Dexter characters, I don't want them out on the streets. I don't want them to be able to get out of jail. Ever.
If I were on a jury and the death penalty were on the table, I'd like to think that I'd stick to my convictions and choose to sentence someone to life in prison rather than link myself to someone else's death. But it might actually depend on how awful the crime they committed was and if I ever thought there was any chance they might do that awful thing again.
Do you believe the death penalty is justified for heinous crimes?
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