Thoughts on killer’s sentence
As Spencer Whitney makes clear, the death penalty is less of a punishment for the 22-yearold Dylann Roof, steeped in the worst of American racism, than life in prison without parole would have been. In prison for life, Roof would not only “see minorities thrive in American society,” as Whitney wrote, but he would also be forced to live among the very people he has been taught to fear and despise. Many of the prisoners he would have to live among, as well as the prison staff he would have to answer to, are African Americans, a fact which could only be felt as a punishment to him.
The death penalty might be emotionally satisfying for those meting it out, but it fails the rational test of what punishment is supposed to accomplish. There is even the possibility that in that environment, Roof would befriend a nonwhite prisoner and learn how the poison of racism, like Dr. Frankenstein, created a monster that led to his own destruction.
Michael Kroll, Oakland