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The more things change, the more they stay the same...

One of the very first pieces I ever wrote for Wizbang, one of my auditions for the guest-posting gig, was about a Massachusetts man named Joseph Druce. Mr. Druce is currently a guest of the Commonwealth, and will remain so for the rest of his life after being convicted of murder back in 1989.

That's the rule in Massachusetts: the ultimate penalty the Commonwealth can inflict is to lock you up for life. If you are convicted of first-degree murder, you will be put in prison where you can't hurt anyone else ever again.

Unless, of course, you manage to kill a fellow inmate or a guard. Which is exactly what Mr. Druce did.

Mr. Druce found himself sharing a wing with a convicted pedophile and former priest. He very carefully prepared and stalked former Father Geoghan, followed him into his cell, jammed the door shut, and strangled him to death. This morning's Boston Herald has even more chilling details of the killing.

Mr. Druce has yet to go to trial, but I repeat my question at the time: why? There's absolutely no good that can come from his trial.

If he's convicted, he'll be sentenced to life without parole. He's already serving such a sentence, so it'll make no difference. If he's acquitted, he'll go right back to prison anyway. Regardless of the outcome, he'll spend the rest of his days behind bars.

And in the meantime, he gets a wonderful little diversion as he's trotted off to pre-trial hearings, meetings, the actual trial itself... in essence, he's won a bit of a vacation from his cell.

And that is one of the strongest arguments I can imagine for capital punishment. There is literally no incentive for someone already serving life without parole to NOT kill again, and plenty of incentive to do so.

And the next time someone like Mr. Druce chooses to take a little vacation from prison with some quality court time, they might not choose a pedophile priest to kill, but a guard or some other innocent.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The more things change, the more they stay the same...:

» NIF linked with Winds of Fate

» Who Can Really Say? linked with Why I need a vacation

Comments (13)

Mr. Druce has yet to go ... (Below threshold)

Mr. Druce has yet to go to trial, but I repeat my question at the time: why? There's absolutely no good that can come from his trial.

What if DNA evidence were to turn up, absolving him of the crime he was already in prison for? Just a thought, perhaps inspired by a Larry Niven short story...

Murder probably has no expi... (Below threshold)

Murder probably has no expiration date, so they could try him then ... ?


Well, yes it is absurd. But... (Below threshold)

Well, yes it is absurd. But the irony runs deep. Mr Druce almost certainly believes in capital punishment for paedophiles - and Geoghan wasn't exactly a small time paedophile. My primary reaction to your post was to laugh and smile a bit when I saw who he killed. I was a victim of folks like Geoghan and I would surmise that Mr. Druce may well have a special place in his heart for those kind of people too. But he may just be a psychopath who knows the rules and saw an opportunity for a vacation as you say.

Nobody's real sad about thi... (Below threshold)

Nobody's real sad about this since the victim was a child molester, but what if, instead, Druce managed to kill one of the guards? I think this is a question for death-penalty opponents: what recourse does society have against a lifer-without-parole who murders a prison guard?

(And actually, even child molesters, disgusting slimeballs though they be, have the right to serve out their prison terms without being murdered.)

Why can't they just set up ... (Below threshold)

Why can't they just set up a hearing via videophone for cases like this. Take away the vacation apsect and at the very least reinstate the death penalty for crimes like this? Just don't refer to it as a death sentence. Call it life without parole with an expiration date or something to soothe the lefties. I got it! Call it a Non-Life Sentence. That works every bit as well as referring to the pro-abortion faction as pro-choice.

And I thought pro-life mean... (Below threshold)

And I thought pro-life meant...pro-life. But that's another argument for another day.

I whole-heartedly agree w/ Jay Tea. There's no since in giving this man the vacation time that he's now going to get. No, murder has no statute of limitations. I say hold the recent murder charge in case his original conviction doesn't stand up.

You can bet, if he'd been here in Texas, he wouldn't have had a chance to murder the "good father".

I agree that capital punish... (Below threshold)

I agree that capital punishment makes sense for murder committed in prison.
I'd also add rape to that list as well. That's a problem that needs to be stoppped.

To a point I agree with the... (Below threshold)

To a point I agree with the premise of this post. However, without the additional conviction, would it not be possible for some lunatic activist judges to demand a new trial on the original conviction or even set asside the original conviction or the sentence and turn this homicidal maniac loose on society? At least with the second conviction, the possibility of activist judges imposing addtional dangers on society in the name of "political correctness" are significantly diminished.

As I see it, the problem is... (Below threshold)
Cardinals Nation:

As I see it, the problem is not the law or the enforcement of the law, but rather the meaning of the penalty to the offender. While you and I may look at life in prison as a sufficient deterrent to committing murder, individuals such as Mr. Druce do not. They correctly surmise that further sentences past an already levied life sentences are meaningless. They also correctly surmise that they, in effect, have a license to kill and their's nothing our society can do about it.
To solve the problem, we must come up with a punishment that fits their crime and that will exact a meaningful toll within their society. An example of this would be the surgical removal of limbs. It sounds horrendous and gruesome, but no more so than the way victims in prison are usually killed; shanked, beaten, strangled. It's also far more human than simply extinguishing their life for our societal and economic convenience. If an inmate knew that his crime could cost him the use of a hand, or arm, or leg, they would certainly think twice before committing murder.
Yes, it sounds barbaric and medieval, but the most effective way to fight fire has always been with fire.

Duce is said to be a victim... (Below threshold)

Duce is said to be a victim of sexual abuse while a child (his mother says so, per the article linked about Duce's reenactment of his murder of Geoghan on video from prison). Geoghan is said to have been committed to a ten year sentence for "fondeling a child" -- completely awful but hardly the acts of brutal child molestor although I find all child molestation to be deplorable, just saying, Geoghan was in prison for fondling one child, as per his sentencing and conviction).

I'd say it's a case of prison being an unpredictably terrible place given the range of personalities and offenses all serving out sentences together without much distinction as to who is more a problem than whom.

But, what was the actual question here? Life sentencing being a deterrant to murder? Not for those incarcertad for life terms, as this evidences and as do many other similar acts in prisons nationwide. Sometimes a life sentence is worse than capital punishment, and the requests by some serving life terms to be put to death serve as testimony to just how horrible the (sub) human environment in prisons are.

Druce, that is...article al... (Below threshold)

Druce, that is...article also says he committed the murder so he could be confined in more isolated, protected area of the prison. Since he was a victim of child abuse, I'm thinking he was desperate to get away from the general population.

Seems that probably so was Geoghan. You know, perhaps they helped one another out, in a very grim fashion.

What if DNA evidence wer... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

What if DNA evidence were to turn up, absolving him of the crime he was already in prison for? Just a thought, perhaps inspired by a Larry Niven short story...

There isn't a statute of limitations on murder. Save the expense of a trial/court hearings, and put the charges on hold. If the guy is found innocent, there is nothing to stop the DA from filing charges on the inmate murder, and going to court on that one to keep him locked up.

Seems to me another trial is a waste of money as much as time.

Time to consider George Car... (Below threshold)

Time to consider George Carlin's solution:

1. Errect a huge fenced in area in the desert.
2. Put all the deranged criminals in there (people like Druce).
3. Give them all the whiskey, crack and PCP you can feed them.
4. Toss some basic bladed weapons in for fun.
5. Tell the winner they win a prize and a comfy cell.
6. Broadcast the whole uncensored thing on Pay Per View.
7. Let the winner celebrate, then off camera blow his brains out.
8. Dig a hole and bury the bodies.

Rinse and Repeat...

Yeah, it's a sick thought, but in a way it makes sense. Just put the repeat violent offenders in there. Wife beaters, Child Molesters, Anyone involved in a drug shootout, gang members, etc.

Druce will probably win a prize and end up in a Federal Supermax lockdown. It's not a real prize, he will be locked in his cell 23 hours a day and his exercise hour will be rotated around so he never knows when it will occur. His exercise is limited to some weight lifting, running on a treadmill, or being able to look up to see the sun and blue sky 20 feet over head surrounded by brick walls. No newspapers, magazines, no TV, just him in a cell by himself. No interaction with general population ever again. His cell includes a shower, toilet and sink. Everything is either stainless steel or cement. Only a limited selection of books are available. Lot's of time to think about what you did to land you in a such a place.






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