Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Death Penalty Fizzles Again

David Kaczynski, head of New Yorkesr for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, has a blog posting about Ronell Wilson, convicted of killing two undercover police officers in a robbery that netted $120. Originally sentenced to death in a federal trial in 2006, Wilson had his sentence overturned yesterday by a federal appeals court that sent the case back to district court, where Wilson will be sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

Commenting on those who expressed outrage over this latest development, Mr. Kaczynski writes:

While their comments may play well politically, they change nothing and only serve to underscore the futility of the death penalty, with its broken promises to hurting victim family members and its untold millions of dollars wasted on political grandstanding.
Meanwhile, young people are dying on the streets Schenectady, Albany, and just about every other urban area in America. Where’s the outrage? Are their lives less valuable?

Here in Schenectady, we have no gang intervention program. No Ceasefire/SNUG program. (Too costly, we are told.) No community policing worthy of the name. The City Council recently declined to renew funding for the Weed & Seed community crime prevention program. Meanwhile, kids’ bodies keep piling up.

I don’t know how much money we taxpayers had to shell out for Ronell Wilson’s capital trial and appeals. Millions of dollars for sure. I can tell you this: the US Government spent an estimated $5 million to prosecute my brother capitally, and $3 million to defend him capitally. Like Ronell Wilson, my brother got life without parole. He stated that he would have preferred death, meaning that our government spent about $8 million trying to accommodate him.

Most of that amount could have been invested in effective crime prevention, treatment for the mentally ill, and real assistance to crime victims and their families – all efforts which (unlike the costly and futile death penalty) have been shown to save money and lives.

The entire blog entry is available here.