Monday, January 17, 2005

Donald Beardslee

Here is an interesting LA Times editorial on the death penalty in California. It focuses on Donald Beardslee's upcoming execution and the problems with the application of death in his case, but it also discusses the inherent problems with California's death penalty (and any other state's!). In particular, it addresses the question of unequal application of death. Its the same issue I hound on about once a month: who decides who lives and who dies? What makes one person fit for a death sentence but not another?

At least California takes the appeals process seriously. Of course, in Beardslee's case, it means he's spent over 20 years on death row waiting for his own murder. It also means that the victim's family has dealt with Beardslee and his appeals process for over 20 years. Now, do I want Beardslee to be executed earlier? HECK NO. The system needs to go the course to at least assure some sense of constitutionality. Thing is, after all these years, what purpose does killing him serve? He's 61 years old with some serious brain damage from childhood that likely influenced the progression of his crimes. Does it bring some sort of closure after 20 years? Wouldn't life without possibility of parole have served some closure? At least then he'd be put in a cell for the remainder of his natural life, an anonymous number deep in the fortress of a California prison. He'd have limited appeals and would likely never be heard from again.

California's Death Penalty Lie

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