An alternative to returning to the death penalty

In a lot of ways, I would love to see those officials advocate for the return of the death penalty, but does it work?

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

Another violent weekend has come to a close and while aldermen like Anthony Beale, 9th Ward, are brave enough to take on ride-sharing companies with bravado, we can expect him and the rest of our black elected officials' usual complete silence when it comes to children and others being shot and killed.

In a lot of ways, I would love to see those officials advocate for the return of the death penalty. Whether the death penalty was or wasn't a deterrent to crime can always be debated. Yet time and time again, our criminal element since the elimination of it, commits carnage while doing all they can to avoid paying a penalty for the havoc they wrought.

Yes I am quite aware that the death penalty was an imperfect system, and one in which "My bad" cannot be given should the state put the wrong person to death. So if the death penalty is off the table, what else can we use to establish a sense of fear in our fearless criminal element?

Of course I have a suggestion. I am not sure of how all the details should/could/would work, but if history is the predecessor to learning the lessons from the past, then my idea had many activists and criminals upset about the prospect. So here it is: We need to reopen Tamms Correctional Center and begin to charge those who create serious havoc with "Tamms-eligible" sentences. Tamms, as many of you may or may not know, is the maximum security prison located downstate in Tamms. It is a supermax prison opened in 1998 with no cafeteria, yard, chapel or classrooms. For 23 hours a day, a prisoner remains locked up in total isolation. During the lucky 24th hour, the prisoner is allowed to shower or exercise — alone.

Many of the men who spent time in Tamms suffered from depression, were suicidal and prone to hallucination. It was not the "three hots and a cot" that many who commit the carnage expect to receive. A sentence to Tamms would be akin to "locking someone up and throwing away the key." There will not be any attempts at correction. A sentence to Tamms is pure punishment. A "living death" sentence!

Is there anyone who feels the men who lured Tyshawn Lee into an alley and executed him for the sins of his father deserve anything less that life in solitary confinement? How many would shed a tear, or march in protest, over that person being locked up for the rest of his life? What about the men who shot and killed 9-year-old Antonio Smith because they thought he was a lookout for a rival gang? Or 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins who was shot and killed as her father changed her diaper?

We will need a sentence to Tamms to have both visual representation and urban legend status. Those sentenced to the institution can have their final YouTube video showing their last walk in public to their permanent solitary confinement cell. It would be the 21st-century version of the "door to no return" with the closing of the cell door being the "click heard round the hood."

We are in desperate times that call for desperate measures. The question is how desperate are we? 

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