Last week I wrote about the accident out in Maywood where an irate father attacked a motorcyclist who had accidentally hit his daughter. The father didn’t take the time to hear the facts before expressing his rage and attacking the bike rider. Yet day after day throughout the black community, we have shooters pulling the triggers with impunity and I have yet to see others in the neighborhood take retribution on a shooter like they do on a motorist. Why?
Is it because the shooter is armed and others aren’t? Perhaps if the shooter knew that everyone in the area were armed and loaded then those individuals who shoot would think once about the carnage they are generating and the consequences they will suffer before they pulled the trigger. Truthfully, the idea of arming everyone in the neighborhood would, on the surface, seem radical. Yet other than doing something of that drastic nature, I honestly don’t know what can be done to stop all the random and “revenge” shootings that are happening hourly. The problem has gotten so big, and so out of control so fast, that to return order after so much chaos may be next to impossible unless … we reinstate the death penalty.
It was just over a year ago that the Gov. Pat Quinn formally eliminated the death penalty. Many had argued quite successfully that having such a law in place did little to stop people from committing their atrocities. Yet not having the death penalty in place seems to have freed up even more people willing to pull the trigger since their only punishment would be life in prison.
Now for most folks, the thought of life behind bars is a deterrent. But unfortunately, prison life has become a fashion statement of sorts for far too many of our young people. Going to jail has become their “right of passage” and thus there isn’t any fear of the idea. Jail is viewed as where they will run into their homies, family and friends. The once negative stereotype has long since been replaced by having a prison number “badge of honor.” And even more dangerous than those who don’t fear going to jail are those who haven’t been caught. They are the ones who shot first and got away with their crimes. So it is easy to see how and why those individuals now feel emboldened by it.
In days of old, executions were public affairs. Watching someone get killed helped to reinforce the idea to the citizenry that crime didn’t pay. It was a strong visual message that if you didn’t like seeing what happened to the prisoner, then you would for the most part not do what he did so as to not end up in the same position.
In today’s world, we have, in a sense, “privatized” the criminal justice system. Most folks aren’t familiar with it until they get caught up in it. A recent example was the bride who stabbed her groom to death on their wedding day. In the courtroom she told the judge she didn’t mean to do it and all she wanted to do was go home. The judge told her in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t be going home for a long time.
People who take other people’s lives do so because they don’t have their own lives at stake. We need the death penalty back with safeguards in place. We also need the execution of a murderer to remind people that the state still has sovereignty rights over your life, and when you take a life, you can, in turn, lose your own.