Ex­e­cut­ing the guilty and in­no­cent

Cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment may be de­served for crim­i­nals, but not the un­born

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Cal Thomas

Nearly three dozen men sit on death row in Ar­kan­sas, where cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment has been sus­pended since 2005. Un­less clemency is granted, seven of them — an eighth man was granted a tem­po­rary re­prieve — will be given lethal in­jec­tions all within a 10-day pe­riod, be­tween April 17 and 27.

Why so many? Why the rush?

The New York Times re­ports that the un­prece­dented pace is “brought about by a loom­ing ex­pi­ra­tion date for a drug used by the state for lethal in­jec­tions.” The drug is mi­da­zo­lam, “which has been used in sev­eral botched and grue­some lethal in­jec­tions in other states in re­cent years.” Be­cause of the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing mi­da­zo­lam’s use, “a num­ber of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies have re­stricted their drugs from use for cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.”

Anti-death penalty groups are up­set and the state is hav­ing dif­fi­culty ac­quir­ing a suf­fi­cient num­ber of wit­nesses, as re­quired by law.

These are “bad hom­bres,” as Pres­i­dent Trump might de­scribe them. Many of them have been on death row for more than 20 years while the ap­peals process ground on and rel­a­tives of their vic­tims have waited for jus­tice to be served.

Don Davis, now 54, was sen­tenced to death in 1992. He is to be ex­e­cuted April 17. Davis was con­victed of shoot­ing 62-year-old Jane Daniel in the back of the head while rob­bing her home, even though she com­plied with his de­mands to hand over her valu­ables.

Bruce Earl Ward, 60, is also slated for ex­e­cu­tion April 17. He’s been on death row since 1990 af­ter be­ing con­victed of mur­der­ing 18-year-old Re­becca Doss at a Lit­tle Rock con­ve­nience store where she worked the night shift. The court heard tes­ti­mony that Ward drove around town look­ing for a vic­tim and stran­gled the young woman in the store bath­room.

In 1993, Stacey E. John­son, now 47, raped, beat, stran­gled and then slit the throat of Carol Heath, a mother of two. Heath was at­tacked in her home. The Sun news­pa­per re­ported her daugh­ter, Ashley, then six, “was found star­ing out her bed­room win­dow the fol­low­ing morn­ing … hav­ing spent the night know­ing her mother was dead in the room next door.”

The list goes on, but this is their com­mon pro­file. Now for the in­no­cent. Ac­cord­ing to the Ar­kan­sas De­part­ment of Health, 3,771 abor­tions took place in the state in 2015, a slight drop from the pre­vi­ous year, part of the more than 59 mil­lion abor­tions per­formed in the United States since the pas­sage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Where is the anti-death penalty crowd’s com­pas­sion for those ba­bies and the many women who say they re­gret­ted their de­ci­sion to ter­mi­nate their preg­nan­cies and would have made a dif­fer­ent choice had they re­ceived ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion?

Those op­posed to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment can cer­tainly gin-up out­rage and sym­pa­thy for con­victed mur­der­ers and rapists, but seem to of­fer very lit­tle sym­pa­thy to the rel­a­tives of their vic­tims and not an ounce of out­rage for the in­no­cent un­born who have been aborted.

Is this an un­fair com­par­i­son? Not at all. Con­sider this. Many op­pose the death penalty be­cause they claim all hu­man life has value. Then is not an in­no­cent un­born hu­man life? How is an un­born baby any less valu­able than a con­victed rapist or mur­derer?

For sec­u­lar-pro­gres­sives, op­po­si­tion to the death penalty ap­pears to be based largely on sen­ti­ment, not on the in­trin­sic value of life. Yes, there are rea­sons to op­pose the death penalty. It can of­ten be un­equally ap­plied. I get that. But I’m speak­ing of the larger moral is­sue.

In the end, cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment is a mat­ter of jus­tice and just deserts. It is jus­tice for the dead and his or her rel­a­tives, and it is just deserts for the mur­derer. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions I have of­fered peo­ple op­posed to the death penalty a deal. I will op­pose cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment for the guilty, if they will op­pose “cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment” for the in­no­cent un­born.

I am still wait­ing to hear from them.

Many op­pose the death penalty be­cause they claim all hu­man life has value. Then is not an in­no­cent un­born hu­man life? How is an un­born baby any less valu­able than a con­victed rapist or mur­derer?

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist. His lat­est book is “What Works: Com­mon Sense So­lu­tions for a Stronger Amer­ica” (Zon­der­van, 2014).


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