It is unfortunate that the inaugural Community Forum article (The Death Penalty; Not Eye for Eye, August ’01) so thoughtlessly portrays opposition to capital punishment. While the author pours her soul out over the failures and limitations of capital punishment, she takes time out to grieve for our society, our politicians, our sixteen-and-up murderers, herself, and specifically for Tim McVeigh. Conspicuous in its absence is any grief for the victims.
In truth, the death penalty awaits only a tiny percentage of those convicted of capital crimes. More people on death row have died of natural causes than have been executed, so any discussion of its “deterrent effect” is moot. Dying of old age is hardly a deterrent.
But that hardly matters to murder victims. We learned from Ms. Ahten’s article that 3,661 men and women are on death row in the US. But she chooses not to share how many victims they represent. McVeigh murdered 168 men, women, and children. Ted Bundy murdered over thirty young women. The list goes on.
Ms. Ahten says she is shutting down emotionally due to the pain that capital punishment brings her. I suppose thinking about the real victims would be too much for her to bear. But forgetting the true victims in her article was remarkably thoughtless, and failing to grieve for them doesn’t do their survivors justice.