Thursday, May 9, 2013

Worse Than Capitol Punishmant

Something else in the news lately. Is death appropriate for the Marathon bombers? For the Cleveland kidnapper/rapist? For the woman who stabbed her former boyfriend 27 times and slit his throat after shooting him in the head? She's actually asking for death. She doesn't want a long punishment, poor baby.

There are certain people for whom death may seem to be just. Timothy McVay, for instance, convicted of killing 168 including day care children after a trial with overwhelming evidence. No DNA to come back years later and offer proof of innocence. Forgiveness comes hard for many of us. Some people just don't offer the suggestion of a possibility for remorse or rehabilitation.

Other people act once in haste or rage, and would never be likely to offend again. Others get convicted by mistake, proven years later. Fewer people argue that these deserve death. (Yes, some argue exoneration isn't valid. Hard to believe, but they're out there.) More argue that life without parole is enough to protect society from them, and the innocent may get a second chance to have a life.

Some of has have hard and firm opinions about death as a penalty, either for or against. Others say yes in some circumstances and no in others. I'd like to offer up another possibility for punishment, one that's not actually technologically possible today.

Star Trek had an episode where Miles O'Brien had a life sentence imposed for something he was proven not guilty of. When released, it was effectively too late. Though only a few days had passed, the advanced technology of the aliens forced him to subjectively live out that full sentence. It stuck in my mind.

Of course, my mind is a bit twisted, and my version of an ideal punishment would be somewhat different. What if, instead of spending 70 years mentally in prison, you spent your mental time in the mind of your victims as they suffered whatever you had done to them?

Imagine Timothy McVay, for example, in the mind of each of the 168 dead and each of the injured, being forced to live a couple hours before the blast, knowing what was in store, unable to avoid it, and going through the fear, shock, pain, loss each went through. Of course the dead can't tell us, but it would open up a whole new set of careers for those who could imagine and "paint" each moment for maximum effect. It could be stretched out longer appreciation, and with variations for each victim. It could even be repeated countless times, each repetition adding the fears of anticipation to the experience. Every moment would be happening to you.

The Marathon bomber could be forced to suffer each wound, each amputation, each death, each long slow recovery, starting about half an hour from the finish line, running towards each fate with no possibility of turning aside. The Cleveland kidnapper/rapist could be forced to endure the ten years of captivity of each victim. The more horrific the crime, the more horrific the punishment.

At last, we could truly exact an eye for an eye. And that would likely be worse than capitol punishment for many.

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