The Death Penalty Gets the Death Penalty


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When 7-year-old Somer Thompson disappeared on her way home from school in Orange Park, Florida, earlier this week, officials were hopeful that she would be found safe, and mobilized a massive search for the little girl. Alas, it was not to be, as the child’s mangled body was found on Wednesday in a Georgia garbage dump.

A devastated Deina Thompson, Somer’s mother, went on camera and issued a warning to her daughter’s killer, who remains at large:

I hope they get you and I hope they make you pay for a long, long time. You don’t take from somebody. You didn’t just take her from me. You took her from my family, you took her from all these people. And you don’t do this to a little baby and put my baby in the trash like she’s nothing. That’s not OK; this is not OK.

“Whoever did this,” exclaimed one Florida resident upon hearing news of the gruesome find, “deserves the same treatment.”

And yet, the child predator who killed Somer, when caught, may never even face the death penalty. In fact, there may no longer be any crime considered heinous enough to have it administered.

Have we finally found the one perfect, irrefutable moral argument against capital punishment?

Well, no actually.

The death penalty will probably be abolished for an altogether different reason: it is deemed to be too expensive.

A new study, cited by Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! network, says that the U.S. “can no longer afford to continue carrying out the death penalty.” Quoting from the website of a group calling itself “the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC),” Goodman reported that due to the recession, states and local governments are facing budget crises and “would benefit financially by replacing capital punishment with lifelong prison terms.”

The DPIC report claims that the death penalty has led to $2 billion in costs since 1976 that wouldn’t otherwise have been incurred had the harshest punishment been life in prison.

Well then, since it’s probably a safe bet to assume that a bailout of the criminal justice system by President Barack Obama is nowhere on the horizon, Somer’s killer, and all of the killers that will come after him, will have nothing to worry about as far as paying the ultimate price for their crimes.

Will the savings be worth it?