Yesterday the United States Supreme Court refused to stop the execution of John Allen Muhammad, sentenced to death for the sniper slayings that terrorized Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. in a bloody three week rampage in 2002. Barring any last minute intervention, Muhammad will die by lethal injection today at a prison in Virginia.
Of course, death penalty opponents are crying that the country is killing a mentally ill Gulf War veteran on the eve of Veteran’s Day. Others say that Muhammad should not die, because he is not responsible for his actions, due to mental problems, which may be related to Gulf War Syndrome. Of course, none of the people wringing their hands in anguish lost a loved one to Muhammad’s brutality.
He may or may not be mentally ill. I don’t really care. He needs to die. If I had a vicious dog that was dangerous to people, I wouldn’t cage it and feed it for the rest of its life. I’d put it down.
Now, I can hear some of you saying that there is a lot of difference between a human being and a dog. I don’t buy it. When either one becomes dangerous, it must be dealt with.
I have seen violent death up close and personal. Years ago I also witnessed a legal execution, in my capacity as a newsman. The prisoner who was executed had a much easier death than the woman he murdered. Much easier than I felt he deserved. Before he was strapped to the gurney, he dined on steak, a baked potato, strawberry pie, and a chocolate malt. By contrast, he kept his victim’s body in the shower stall of a grimy motel for three days after killing her.
In another case I am very familiar with, in 1984, an animal named Frank Jarvis Atwood murdered a beautiful eight year old little girl in Tucson, named Vicki Lynne Hoskinson. Atwood had only been out of prison four months, after serving time on a conviction for kidnapping and molesting an eight year old boy. Prior to that, he had served time in a mental institution for lewd and lascivious conduct with another child. After his release from prison, Atwood had boasted that the next time around, he wouldn’t leave anyone to testify against him.
I knew the family of the murdered girl, who was the same age as my son at the time, and it was heartbreaking to see their anguish. It is enraging to know that in the 25 years since his crime, Frank Jarvis Atwood has thrived in prison. Though sentenced to death, he married, earned a college degree, and continues to exist in a world that does not need him or want him. Why? What purpose does his continuing to exist serve?
Our prisons are filled with murderers, child molesters, and rapists who have breathed for way too long. Why? Why do we warehouse these animals that will only hurt us again if they are ever released? What’s to be gained by spending fortunes to house and feed them, and to pay guards to keep them from escaping or killing each other?
I’d put down a vicious dog. I’d do the same with any of these animals.
Tags: child molester, child molesters, death penalty, death penalty opponents, die by lethal injection, earned a college degree, execution, execution of John Allen Muhammad, Frank Jarvis Atwood, Gulf War Syndrome, Gulf War veteran, kidnapping, mental institution, mentally ill, murder victim, murdered girl, murderers, newsman, prison, prison in Virginia, prisoner, rapists, sentenced to death, sniper slayings, thrived in prison, United States Supreme Court, Veteran’s Day, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, violent death, Washington D.C., witnessed a legal execution