Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Irony: The Death Penalty

On Sunday, three prisoners held in the cell block reserved for the worst offenders stabbed a 59-year-old death row inmate in the throat, cheek, and head. A St. Quentin spokesperson said, "it was definitely an attempt to murder him."

The man was sentenced to death after he was convicted for the killing of several people during a 1983 robbery. We don't know if the man had exhausted his appeals and consequently has no chance of having a court overturn his sentence but let's assume, fo r the sake of argument, that he fought an unsuccessful legal battle all the way up to California's Supreme court and the United States Supreme Court refused to grant him a hearing. Let's also, for the moment, assume that no governor would ever grant him a pardon or clemency.

In otherwords, there is no doubt that the state will put him to death on the scheduled day. Had the three conspirators succeeded, they would have killed someone that the state already planned to kill. So what did they do wrong? Why does the San Quentin spokesperson call their attack an attempted murder while the state would call the very same act a death penalty?

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