I've always been amazed at how the most strident supporters of the death penalty also turn out to be pro-life (a phrase I despise as it sneakily implies that if you are pro-abortion you are pro-death: a zygote is not a "person"!).  Our local daily paper carried a story about a state pol, Rep. Raul Torres (R-Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley), who promises to work on laws making the death penalty applicable to "terrorists and drug traffickers that harm U.S. citizens."  He wants to treat drug cartel activities on this side of the border as "acts of war."

In the first place, state law makes no distinctions between aliens and naturalized citizens of the U.S. as pertains to Texas criminal law and procedure (except that a defense attorney must advise an alien client that he may, and probably will be deported if he pleads guilty or is found so by a judge or jury).  Torres presumably knows this, so his press releases are disingenuous.  Nor is there any distinction in practice in the federal system.  Torres wants the current administration to look weak and ineffectual, much as Gov. Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona.  The problem is not going to be "fixed" with any more money thrown at it or the urging of penalties stiffer than the ones already in place.  No, fixing the problem involves a brave new worldview: recognition that only with legalization and use of revenues for rehabilitation can the so-called "war on drugs" be won.

Torres's official website lists his religion as "Christian."  Being a conservative Republican, he has to be pro-life, and yet he supports the death penalty.  Torres would work toward the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which all conservatives believe was "wrongly decided," probably because of the "umbrella" doctrine found in the First Amendment, and by which doctrine that amendment is said to protect a woman's "right to privacy," as a justification for abortion. The New Majority of SCOTUS believes the First Amendment does not contain such a doctrine, which is odd when they also say that AK-47's are protected by the Second Amendment.  Apparently it, too, has an "umbrella doctrine."

The Raul Torreses of this world would have women cutting themselves to shreds using coat hangers just as they would have us return to the desert warlord demand of an eye for an eye, a practice that Gandhi said would lead to universal blindness.  Why do Torres and his ilk believe that an undifferentiated zygote's "life" is any more precious than an adult human being's?  Two wrongs never make a right.  If you don't want to believe Jesus, ask a mathematician.  They'll tell you that it only works in imaginary numbers.

All of the arguments in favor of capital punishment fail.  For one, it is more expensive to kill a killer than to keep him alive for life, given the number of appellate steps, and the time it takes for the cases to wind through the courts versus life spent caged a tiny cell with a daily food budget of about 35 cents. It is difficult to believe that a man or woman who won't hesitate to behead another human being (as did cartel members in, e.g. Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico a couple of years ago) will think twice before offing anyone else, including, say, a South Texas rancher.  (Ironically, when a Mexican national commits a capital crime in the U.S., the more humane Mexican government will not allow return of its citizen by extradition to any requesting state in the U.S.  The argument might be made that the cartels commit such violence precisely because they know they will not face the ultimate penalty if caught, but cartel killers are completely without conscience.  If the death penalty were a deterrent, only conscience would make it work.)

Finally, the supporter of capital punishment points out that "at least the guy we execute won't be taking anyone else's life." No, they won't, but killing the killer is capitulation to the old law of the jungle, to lex talionis, which is not a characteristic of an advanced civilization.  How odd that homicides are so infrequent in countries that have long ago abolished the penalty.  The statistics do not lie.  It is to be noted that individual ownership of weapons is against the law in those same nations.  Where only the police have guns, murder rate go down. 

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I agree with you Lillie.~ Melinda


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