How can we continue to allow overcrowded jail and prison cells? How did we allow the criminal justice system to increase prison terms so long that “once in, never out”?
Perhaps our culture embraced it and taught us from an early age, taught us through children’s stories and poems and songs…
Look at “Three Blind Mice.” In this familiar ditty, a farmer’s wife chops off the tails of 3 mice. We enjoyed the simple tune and rhyme. But the message? Why did we find that so clever?
The original tale, “Three Blind Mice and How They Became Blind,” focuses on a little Mouse family with a loving Mother Mouse and curious, adventuresome Mice Children. They fall into a vat of vinegar, become blind, and can’t escape the farmer’s wife who finds them in her pantry—and leaves the severed tails to frighten the mother off (that works).
Grizzly. No wonder our mothers provided the shortened version, right? But what were we celebrating, and what does that have to do with prison grievances, you might reasonably ask. Well…
Today the death penalty is still the law of 30 states. Citizens of 30 states allow an executioner to kill an inmate. Some may believe that those on death row all murdered someone, and “fair is fair,” “eye for an eye.” First, even if the inmate did murder someone, we don’t know the full story, do we? We don’t know if that person thought he was killing a devil rather than person. We can’t be sure the person had a fair trial. We know almost nothing, and yet we allow the State to end another person’s life. And I correspond to two inmate who did not actually kill someone, but were with the murderer. Driving the car… posing lookout. In Texas, it’s called “Law of Parties,” and anyone connected to the crime is as guilty as the person who ended someone’s life. Death Row.
Does the fear of death row frighten would-be murders? Do those in a fury at a cheating husband, or those trying to get a drug dealer’s money while brandishing a weapon consider the possibility of a life on death row and then a moment in the “chair”? No. Simply, no. Read what the expert researchers have found:“Scientists agree, by an overwhelming majority, that the death penalty has no deterrent effect. They felt the same way over ten years ago, and nothing has changed since then. States without the death penalty continue to have significantly lower murder rates than those that retain capital punishment. And the few recent studies purporting to prove a deterrent effect, though getting heavy play in the media, have failed to impress the larger scientific community, which has exposed them as flawed and inconsistent.
The latest issue of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology contains a study by a Sociology professor and a graduate student at the University of Colorado-Boulder (Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock), examining the opinions of leading criminology experts on the deterrence effects of the death penalty.
The results reveal that most experts do not believe that the death penalty or the carrying out of executions serve as deterrents to murder, nor do they believe that existing empirical research supports the deterrence theory. In fact, the authors report that 88.2% of respondents do not think that the death penalty deters murder—a level of consensus comparable to the agreement among scientists regarding global climate change.
Maybe we should rethink our approach to childhood stories…