More good stuff from the Dallas Morning News, whose conversion on the death penalty has if not the zeal then certainly the earnestness one expects from a convert.
In theory, the ultimate punishment is imposed for the most heinous of crimes. But in practice, the death penalty has not been applied flawlessly or fairly. About 2 percent of known murderers are sentenced to death, but the fate of the accused often hinges on disparate details unrelated to the crime committed.
Wealth, race and random luck play a role in determining whether a case ends in death. Politics and geography can mean the difference between life in prison or lethal injection.
State-sanctioned death, it seems, is arbitrary.
We need a consistent standard.
But as long as capital punishment remains an option, it will be viewed as the ultimate goal, and prosecutors will face pressure to meet that goal.
Justice demands a punishment that is fair yet revocable, one that provides a sense of finality while allowing for the fallibility of the system.
Life without parole meets that bar.
It's harsh. It's just. And it's final without being irreversible.
Call it a living death.
Death does not provide an added level of justice. A prison sentence that does not allow for the possibility of parole accomplishes the same objectives: protecting society from violent criminals and ensuring that every day of a murderer's life is a miserable existence.
Our standards of punishment have evolved over time, from the gallows to firing squads, from the electric chair to lethal injection. Life without parole, essentially death by prison, should be the new standard.