Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Enormous emotional cost

Just came across the op-ed, titled "Death Penalty Conflicts," that former district attorney Dan Glode published in the June 25th issue of the Newport (OR) News-Times. Some relevant excerpts:

I have a confession to make. After 12 years as Lincoln County district attorney, I have to admit I have conflicts regarding the death penalty as it is administered in this state. I realize it may not be politically correct for an elected (or an ex-elected in my case) district attorney to admit this, but I feel compelled to do so at this time. Some current district attorneys may think it political suicide to do so because they fear they would be considered “soft” on crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me say that my compunctions primarily are not on moral or ethical grounds involving putting a convicted murderer to death, but on the way it is used (or not used) in this state, and the enormous expense in dollars and emotional capital for the families of homicide victims.


The emotional cost on the families of the victim is also enormous. I have some knowledge of this, as a close relative of mine was murdered back in the 1980s. It took several years to finally catch those responsible, and I realized I just wanted it over. When they were finally tried and incarcerated, I knew I could move on. The justice system, as good or imperfect as it may be, cannot make the victim’s family whole again, but it can reduce the trauma by not dragging things out interminably. In these capital cases, the process goes on and on. Sometimes these family members have to go through additional trials if the cases get kicked back for re-trial, and the hurt begins anew. The wound never heals; it doesn’t even scar over.

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