Thank you Doug Clark for taking a stand against the death penalty. From the column in today's N&R
. . ."If we can't explain or justify these disparities, then the death penalty is arbitrary and should be abolished.
Not out of sympathy, but fairness. Because unfairness is inexcusable in matters of life and death."
An account in the N&R yesterday said that a man in Charlotte was arrested and charged with killing the child of his girlfriend. This man had recently been released after serving 25 years for killing his own 19-month-old child in another state.
This is a horrible thing and probably a child's life was lost because this man lived. One justification for the death penalty is that "this particular person will never do the crime again." This is true.
On the other hand, is the awareness that innocent people have been killed by the government for crimes they did not commit. and the reality that the death penalty is not applied fairly or swiftly. The more money or notoriety a convicted death row inmate has, the less likely he/she will be executed by the state in a timely manner.
Another reason given for the death penalty is the cost of housing a prisoner for life. Executing a criminal is more costly to society than imprisonment. Sounds crazy doesn't it. But my research shows that it is true.
Proper sentencing of dangerous people is not an exact science. Keeping dangerous people out of society is adequate to protect us from other crimes they might commit. This is a hard thing to do.
I have read, and I believe, that there are people serving long prison terms and much money spent in catching, trying and incarcerating people for long periods who should not be in prison at all. Reforming our laws, our sentencing system and our prison system should be a priority for law makers, judges and citizens. The US has a higher percentage of people in prison than it should.
Right here in Guilford County, we have much overcrowding in our jails. Around 90 percent of those in local jails are waiting trial or sentencing. Many are violent criminals and repeat criminals. Many are there for non-violent crimes and for missing arraignment or trial dates.
I'm not sure what should be done, but I do know that the current Guilford County Jail is inadequate for keeping these people. There is danger in the jails. Guilford County jails are dangerous for inmates, employees and for Guilford County Commissioners who can be sued because of the conditions in our jail.