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Sentencing angels to life on the head of a pin

Well, there's been a verdict in the Joseph Druce case, and it's pretty much what I expected.

But first, a quick recap:

Druce, 40, is currently serving life without parole for a first-degree murder conviction. While in prison, he stalked and brutally beat to death another prisoner, one John Geoghan. Geoghan was a former Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing a boy in the pedophile priest scandal. Druce said that he had been sexually abused as a child, and felt it was his duty to kill pedophiles to avenge and/or protect children.

Druce was found guilty yesterday, and was automatically given a sentence of life without parole.

There's a wonderful aphorism that I find eminently useful: a difference that makes no difference IS no difference.

Before he killed Geoghan, Druce was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. Now that he has been convicted, he's still going to spend the rest of his life in prison. The sole real consequence of his trial was to give him a few weeks of getting out of that prison for a change of scenery. Oh, and the colossal waste of time, money, and other resources in putting Druce on trial. All in all, a tremendous act of judicial Onanism -- and about as productive.

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me the smartest thing to have done was to simply indict Druce for Geoghan's murder, then toss the paperwork in the back of a drawer. if, by some unholy quirk, Druce's original sentence were to be overturned or commuted, he could be tried for killing Geoghan. (Personally, I would have charged him for vandalism in jamming the cell door, and perhaps littering, but I have little truck for pedophiles -- particularly those who do it under color of clergy.)

And I repeat my oft-stated thesis: the Druce case is a perfect argument for the death penalty. As the old song goes, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." In a state with no death penalty, those serving life without parole are literally free to do whatever they wish. This time, the person killed was a pedophile ex-priest -- the type who, as they say in Texas, "needed killin'." Next time, it could be a guard.


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Comments (17)

No surprise that this happe... (Below threshold)
CharlieDontSurf:

No surprise that this happened in Mass. What's next, electing drunken murderers to the Senate? Mary Jo had no comment.

I agree that it was a waste... (Below threshold)
Ethan:

I agree that it was a waste of money to retry a prisoner who is already guaranteed life in jail.

On the other hand, I don't believe this is a good justification for the death penalty, whose costs outweigh its benefits. The primary reason is that there tends to be a long wait (I've read 10 years on average) for someone on death row to actually be terminated, giving him plenty of time to commit additional crimes such as these. It's clear that the main problem in this case was that he was not isolated, not necessarily that he was alive. If he were on death row, he'd have just as much capacity to kill as if he weren't, unless he were already isolated, a situation that is independent of his status as a lifetime inmate or a death row inmate.

Ethan has a point. ... (Below threshold)
JohnAnnArbor:

Ethan has a point.

Also, perhaps the guy could be punished with worse conditions: placed in a cube, fed through a slot, lights on blazing 24 hours a day, and given zero human interaction.

But the ACLU would doubtless object.

Hi - interesting thread.</p... (Below threshold)

Hi - interesting thread.

I have new right sided political satire blog called YEAH RIGHT up and running.

I'd love the Wizbang crew to stop by.

Just click on the link.

As a father of two sons who... (Below threshold)
tyree:

As a father of two sons who serve in law enforcement, it worries me greatly that some perp will target them and get away with it. I am worried about their safety and do the best I can to protect them. However, when they are at work and have the semi-auto pistol and the body armor on, my efforts don't mean much. There are people behind bars who hate anyone in uniform and consider all of them legitimate targets. Any damage to my sons would hurt a hundred times over if some politician set up a situation in my state similar to Massachusetts. I'm with you on this one Jay Tea. After all, in this case there doesn't seem to be any doubt at all who the "real killer" is.

As an aside, in California we are having a very difficult time getting killers who flee to Mexico extradited for trial because they might be executed. The politicians in this state don't care about that but the people do. Does anyone know if Mexican killers are sent back to MA and other states that ban the death penalty?

Hell, I think they should h... (Below threshold)
Amish:

Hell, I think they should have commuted his sentence for killing that sleazebag Geoghan.


Bravo Mr. Druce for having the balls to do what the state of Mass. didnt.

I don't believe th... (Below threshold)
kbiel:
I don't believe this is a good justification for the death penalty, whose costs outweigh its benefits. The primary reason is that there tends to be a long wait (I've read 10 years on average) for someone on death row to actually be terminated, giving him plenty of time to commit additional crimes such as these.

I can't comment on other states, but Texas does not put death row inmates into general population. They are very isolated and treated like they might want to murder or escape at any moment.

It's clear that the main problem in this case was that he was not isolated, not necessarily that he was alive.

While it is true that isolation might have prevented Mr. Druce from committing this particular murder, but it could not possibly remove all possibility of him being able to commit some other murder. Once his life is finally ended, then all possibility of this remorseless killer murdering again will be removed.

Wouldn't it be possible to ... (Below threshold)
JohnAnnArbor:

Wouldn't it be possible to automate at least a section of a prison so that there is no need for any other human to deal with these guys ever again? Imagine cells with a single entrance, which is directly to the exercise yard. So, in a fire, let them all into that and kill each other if they want. But normally, they would be let out only one at a time, by an automatically opening door. If they refuse to return after their time is up, that can be encouraged with loud sound or other irritations (a stench, perhaps).

My point is, with a little creativity, these guys can be kept completely isolated from other humans. What's wrong with that approach?

The charges, trial and such... (Below threshold)
tweell:

The charges, trial and such serve a definite purpose - they protect the prison. Putting a pedophile in with 'normal' criminals will result in death or severe injury to the pedophile, every time. The inmates will find them out and apply 'prison justice'. This was allowed to happen, and the trial provides a smokescreen as well as some deniability if the prison gets slapped with a wrongful death suit.
Automation is useful to a point. Complete automation would be very expensive. It would also be incredibly hard to make completely effective - these guys have nothing else to do, and can come up with ingenious ways around any system. Finally, it would be considered 'cruel and unusual punishment'.

A little "unsupervised time... (Below threshold)
taz:

A little "unsupervised time in the exercise yard" can be a valuable thing to society. Just saved Mass. a lot of money; without costing a nickle extra for the justice served.

Egads, I figured he would h... (Below threshold)

Egads, I figured he would have gotten time off for good behavior.

My point is, with a litt... (Below threshold)

My point is, with a little creativity, these guys can be kept completely isolated from other humans. What's wrong with that approach?

I'll tell you what's wrong with it: what will happen is that the aclu and various "human rights" (read: hate America) groups will squeal like stuck pigs that isolation constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment" and if they do this long enough, eventually some soft-headed idiot liberal judge will either free the murderer or order him back into the general prison population, thus defeating all these best-laid plans.

There isn't a day that goes... (Below threshold)
robert:

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of poor Jeff Dahmer and the brutish way he was treated. We just don't care enough about these lost souls.

And it cheated us as well. Just think of the impact old Jeff could have had at GITMO. Talk about sleep deprivation!

24-hours in a cell with him would be better than sodium pentathol.

And the ACLU and the Euro-s... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

And the ACLU and the Euro-smug types would then cry that we're "outsourcing torture". Oh, the shame of it...

Far as I'm concerned, child molestation should be a capital offense with an automatic and immediate death sentence, just like murdering a peace officer. But then the ACLU would complain about that, too, wouldn't they?

Stay with me now...

Now that I think of it, since the ACLU, Europeans and pain-in-the-butt liberals will complain in any event, why don't we just execute them anyway? What are these whiners going to do? Complain about it? It's kinda like it's free, isn't it?

Historically, justice has b... (Below threshold)
Colton:

Historically, justice has been thought to be blind, but this case involving the inmate who murdered Fr. Geoghan sheds an extremely bright light on the social values that have now come to underlay what we call “justice” in the United States regarding the “pedophile craze” sweeping the nation.

The final thesis of the blogger above is that that the Druce case is a good argument for the death penalty. Is that all? Is that as far as the reasoning is willing to go in this country, and I’m not talking about bloggers who across the board are about as intellectual as a box of rocks; I’m talking the print media, the Big Three, cable news? Even these sources of information—which is all the general public has available—have taken the position that justice does not matter as long as there's a good story and the pedophile, in the end, gets killed.

If you think about it logically, the moral of the story is not the impassioned murder of an individual who was sexually oriented towards boys and who happened to be a victim of a current hysteria, the real moral and the real story is the breakdown of justice at almost every level. We need to take an honest look at the violence that society is imposing on (I won’t say “pedophiles”) but “child-attracted adults”. From the Greek founders of American democracy to the current and irrational outrage at children choosing to consent to sexual activity with their peers or adults, adult/child sexuality has always existed, exists this very day, and will be around for as long as people roam the earth. It takes someone with both a rational mind and compassion to understand this and to understand that the current crusade to eradicate child-attracted adults from the face of society is simply another form of genocide that has more in common with Hitler’s extermination of the Jews than it does with the façade of “protecting the children”. Do we as a society have the courage to do what is right and stop this persecution of our fellow man before it goes too far? Druce’s murder of Fr. Geoghan is symptomatic of the greater problem in society. The murder was representative of the contemporary hysteria we are seeing every day in the media, and the people who, it is now clear, allowed Bruce into that cell and stood idly by while a crime was committed are representative of those of us who look the other way when persecution is at hand.

It is my opinion as a scholar and as a historian that the current hysteria over child and adult sexuality is going to lead us to the overwhelming question of justice and the rights of individuals, be they children, child-attracted adults, or the vigilantes who commit the real crimes.

I work at MCI Walpole and l... (Below threshold)
CJ SCREW:

I work at MCI Walpole and let me tell you, Druce is one of the biggest scumbags in there. He is a whiny little man who craves attention. Now that the trial is over and he isn't recieving any attention, he is going to go after a Officer or someone else high profile. His real name isn't Joe Druce either, he had it changed about 15yrs ago cause he was a convicted CHILD MOLESTOR himself in Mexico. Hopefully someone puts this piece of shit in the ground

anyone who kills a pedo is ... (Below threshold)
herofinder:

anyone who kills a pedo is a hero in my books




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