"If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call. " John McAdams - Marquette University/Department of Political Science, on deterrence Introduction Who addresses in behalf of the victims of those we execute?
All over the United States, news stories lament and tout the countdown to execution number 1,000. In the middle of this we ask ourselves, where are the stories concerning the ripple effects, the ramifications of the heinous crimes that these murderers were executed for perpetrating? Who is counting the victims? A conservative approximation puts the number of victims of these 1,000 murderers at 1,895. Why do we hear so much about the killers and so little about the victims and their loved ones who are left in the wake of these crimes to pick up the pieces?
A small sample of case histories should leave the audience shaken. Melvin and Linda Lorenz and their son Richard were murdered by Roger Stafford. Melvin stopped on a highway near Purcell, Okla. , to help what he thought was a woman whose car had broken down, but instead was ambushed by Stafford and his brother, using Stafford's wife as bait. Less than a month after these horrific murders, the trio killed six employees of a steak house in Oklahoma City. In 1985, 13-year-old Karen Patterson was shot to death in her bed in North Charleston, S. C.
Her killer was a neighbor who had already served 10 years of a life sentence for murdering his half-brother Charles in 1970. Joe Atkins cut the Pattersons' phone lines, then entered bearing a machete, a sawed-off shotgun, and a pistol. Karen's parents were chased out of their home by Atkins. Karen's mom ran to the Atkins home nearby, where Joe then murdered his adopted father, Benjamin Atkins, 75, who had worked to persuade parole authorities to release Joe from the life sentence. When Katy Davis observed three strangers outside her Austin, Texas, apartment, she walked away.
Returning later, she was attacked and forced to open the door by Charles Rector, on parole for a previous murder. The men ransacked her apartment, abducted her and took her to a lake where she was beaten, gang-raped, shot in the head and repeatedly forced underwater until she drowned. Ruby Longsworth of Pasadena, Texas, met Jeffrey Barney through a prison ministry, then helped him get paroled from an auto-theft sentence. Her kindness was repaid when Barney raped and sodomized her, then strangled her with a cord.
She had made the mistake of calling Barney "a bum" after she had gotten to know him better. In 1965, Robert Massie murdered mother of two Mildred Weiss in San Gabriel, Calif. , during a follow-home robbery. Hours before execution, a stay was issued so Massie could testify against his accomplice. Massie's sentence was commuted to life when the Supreme Court halted executions in 1972. Receiving an undeserved second chance, Massie was paroled, but eight months later robbed and murdered businessman Boris Naumoff in San Francisco.
We must think about the lives that all 1,895 murdered victims affected. Every one had families, friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors The Houston Post, 10/16/94). The combined loss is incalculable. There is no end to horror stories like these. Jurors, who represent us, hear about horrific crimes and make tough but appropriate decisions. With a yearly average of 15,000 murders, the fact that we are reaching 1,000 executions in only a little more than 30 years is proof that capital punishment has been reserved for the worst of the worst.
The attention given to the execution of 1,000 murderers is repugnant, especially when the loudest voices think the death of a convicted murderer is a tragedy. Yet the deaths and suffering of countless victims is only an easily-ignored statistic. The death penalty debate in the U. S. is dominated by the fraudulent voice of the anti-death penalty movement. The culture of lies and deceit so dominates that movement that many of the falsehoods are now wrongly accepted as fact, by both advocates and opponents of capital punishment. The anti-death penalty movement specializes in the abolition of truth