Crime and Punisment

One of the she scariest months in my life has to have been October 2002 when two very disturbed individuals went on a 3-week-long shooting  spree in an area that included most of the DC metro area — and many the places I regularly frequented.  All together they killed at least 10 people, targeting random people for what seemed to be no reason.

My son’s elementary school canceled recess during that time. My son’s soccer team canceled all games and practices. Buying gas terrified me. Getting from my car to a public building suddenly became something that resembled a obstacle course — we walked quickly in a zig-zag pattern until we were safely inside. Playgrounds were silent. No one was on the streets in our neighborhood. Trick-or-treating for Halloween was scheduled to be canceled. Every day I worried that one of my kids or husband (who refused to let the sniper attacks make him give up riding his bike to work) would be killed during the day.

Then suddenly it was over. The snipers had been caught and the streets were safe again. The DC metro area breathed a collective sigh of relief. My son and husband among them.

One of those men is scheduled to die this evening and despite the fear he and his accomplice put me through 7 years ago, I cannot be glad about that. I don’t like it that our country puts people to death. Of course people will counter my argument with — what if it was one of your kids. Or your parents. Or your husband. I cannot possibly know what my thoughts would be in that case. I only know now that despite our country’s long history of having the death penalty, people still kill each other. I don’t think the death penalty is working.

9 thoughts on “Crime and Punisment

  1. Dona, I remember that. I also remember being in DC on the day Timothy McVeigh was executed. I felt very disturbed, going about my normal business meetings, knowing what was happening that day. I don’t think the death penalty works. I am glad we don’t have it in NZ. I don’t want to stoop to the level, morally or emotionally, of those who committed the original crimes.
    .-= Mali´s last blog ..Quality or quantity =-.

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  2. I remember knowing that Dean was riding his bike to work and worried about his decision. I also remember the NPR interviews with Andrew and Dean–that was special.

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  3. I think a number of studies support the idea that the death penalty doesn’t work. If there was no chance of parole (in my mind, it’s not about getting revenge or punishing the other person, it’s about keeping other people safe) that seems to me a far better option. Anyone who thinks that would amount to a cushy life sentence hasn’t been inside a prison.

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  4. (aargh—can’t get the npr link to work!)

    I’m afraid I’ve never been pro death penalty. I didn’t know how to feel yesterday. Those days were so terrible—I’d long since left DC, but I knew many people there still, all those neighborhoods. The last death (I think it was the last)—the Ride-On bus driver just starting work—made me weep. I rode those buses. Guy just doing his job…

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  5. Thanks, everyone for commenting. I worried about this post. Capital punishment is such a touchy issue. IB — I had a hard time knowing how to feel yesterday too. I heard that there were no protesters at the execution, and that leads me to believe that a lot of people didn’t know how to feel.

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