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Well, at least he's entertaining himself...

I've been following the case of Joseph Druce, the Massachusetts man who killed convicted pedophile and defrocked Catholic priest John Geoghan while the two were in prison. Druce is now on trial, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Which he was already serving, for a previous murder.

I've repeatedly said that the Druce case is a textbook example of why we need capital punishment. There is literally nothing that can be done to Druce for his murder. Whether he's convicted or acquitted, he'll go back to the same cell for the rest of his life. The only difference is whether he'll be serving one or two life sentences. So the whole trial is an exercise in futility.

Well, not entirely. Druce is having a grand old time.

First, he bragged about the killing -- in detail -- to a guard. But when they tried to use that confession in court, he argued it ought to be suppressed. Then, in court, he said he wanted to plead guilty. Then he changed his mind. He wanted a trial after all. And so on.

If the commonwealth of Massachusetts had a lick of common sense, they'd just drop the indictment of Druce and let him rot back in his cell for that first murder, and only bring it back if -- by some twist of legal idiocy -- anything happened to that original conviction. All they're doing is wasting their time and the taxpayers' money to give the scumbag his jollies and something new to look forward to.

Update: Scott Ferguson, below, points out that I didn't spell out the "capital punishment" angle this time, nor did I link to the prior posting where I spelled it out. In brief: as the song goes, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Druce, already serving a life sentence, cannot be given any more severe punishment, so there is literally no reason for him not to kill again. He already has once, and the next time it could be a guard. In fact, the promise of getting out of prison for his new trial could almost be considered a reward, providing a sort of "perverse incentive" for those already serving life sentences to commit more murders.

Comments (20)

Hell, for killing a kiddie-... (Below threshold)

Hell, for killing a kiddie-raper, they ought to give him a medal.

There are two separate issu... (Below threshold)

There are two separate issues here: Whether trying him in court is a waste of money, and whether he should be executed.

We obviously have to try him. Democracy and the rule of law is always more expensive than dictatorship and rule by fiat. I'm sure Saddam-era Iraq was marvelously efficient (how else could he afford to build all those palaces?) but I would still rather live with our system of government.

As for capital punsihment: I'm a Christian, and no Christian worthy of the name supports it.

But setting that aside, even though capital punishment is marginally cheaper than warehousing a murderer until they die naturally (marginally because of the extremely expensive and wasteful appeals process that, in most states, follows the first conviction of anyone sentenced to death), the tendency for the judicial system to "bury their mistakes" with capital punishment is appalling. This is what they're finding out in Illinois, as you are probably aware.

The only thing that capital punishment gives people is a quickie feel-good in response to a tragedy; a little blood lust buzz. That's unworthy of a great and good nation.

"As for capital punsihment:... (Below threshold)
Dan S:

"As for capital punsihment: I'm a Christian, and no Christian worthy of the name supports it."

Your substantiating evidence is what?

Consider: Jesus Christ himself had opportunity to prevent several instances of capital punishment and chose not to. One was his own. He prevented the execution of neither the thief who repented, nor the unrepentant one. Nor did he give any indication that he considered either execution to be inappropriate.

The case most apt to be cited as indicating his opposition to capital punishment would be his opposition to the stoning of the harlot. But there are compicating factors there. He did not say she should not be executed exactly, he questioned the authority of the "court," the motivation of the accusers, when he said "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" (and in this case we can reasonably suspect some of that mob were accessories to the crime for which they were ready to execute her).

Whether capital punishment is permitted, approved of, or encouraged by the Bible is arguable, but I don't see how the statement above is anything other that unsupported personal opinion. It attempts to argue from authority ("I am a Christian") without evidence (Says who? Why should we accept that statement as some sort of authority for making what some of us will consider a very questionable assertion?).

And that (while immediately "withdrawn" as a supporting argument") is followed by more questionable and unsupported assertions that lead to this: "The only thing that capital punishment gives people is a quickie feel-good in response to a tragedy; a little blood lust buzz."

Capital punishment is a preventative. A murderer who is dead will commit no more (even possibly "justified") murders. This is a situation where ending the threat of a convicted murderer makes logical sense. Not only has he been convicted once, he has confessed to repeating the act after that conviction, and he is clearly a threat for more. And there is no other counterincentive (that we have imagined so far, as witness the fact that this case is not unique, repeat murders in prison are not uncommon) to discourage such acts on his part.

Is this "Christian" suggesting that it's wrong for the State to act in this situation, but it's right for the State not to prevent the killing of another when it is entirely within the State's power (and respinsibility)? How many others (even, in this case, criminals) must be killed by this repeat murderer before the burden of guilt on the State exceeds that which might accrue from mistakenly killing an "innocent" (which is a stretch in this situation, considering the existing conviction, and the evidence for the murder now in question)? One? Two? One a day? Would it not simply be more prudent, and rational, to one-and-for-all eliminate the possibility of repeat murders by this already repeat murderer?

No, not according to our "Christian."

What happened to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's?" If Caesar has the right and authority, as confirmed by Christ, to collect taxes, does not that same right and authority extend to determining that death is an appropriate punishment for some crimes?

Give him his new day in court for this latter murder, but this time make it a final day. Contrary to popular modern criminal theory, there is such a thing as deterrence. Most average people know it and live it.

This is the insanity of NOT... (Below threshold)

This is the insanity of NOT having capital punishment. In a state WITH capital punishment, Druce could have been executed, and hence not have been able to kill anyone. Keeping these people alive just allows for the probability that someone else will die at their hands, which in this case, happened. Of course with our system of "Justice", 20+ years would have to have gone by, and hundreds of appeals filed, before Joseph Druce would have been executed anyway. Don'tcha just love it? Of course in a country where murdering unborn babies is A-OK, this shouldn't surprise anyone.

Dan SWell argued a... (Below threshold)

Dan S

Well argued and well written.

May I add that Barrabas, the man Pilate released to the mob, was a murderer? I would love to know what happened to him. Did he repent and lead a life of moral rectitude, or did he laugh at the government and tradition that gave him his freedom? Did anyone else die at his hand?

An executed murderder can murder no more. I agree that in order for our society to exert the maximum penalty that there should be clear, unambigous evidence of guilt (to avoid travesties such as those in Illinois); however, where there is no doubt, there should be no reluctance to condemn.

Notice how it reas WITHOUT ... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Notice how it reas WITHOUT THE POSSIBLITY OF PAROLE why dont they just hang him now and get it over with

Thanks, Dan S for answering... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Dan S for answering that statement. Well put, comprehensive, and much kinder than was necessary, considering the sweeping accusation/insult of the statement you were answering.

One can analyze the death penalty from several different perspectives, not the least of which is its obvious guarantees against recidivism.

Of course nearly all of the debate centers upon the central question whether the penal code should be punitive or reformative. Unfortunately, the answer that eludes those who would argue for its reformative purpose ignore the fact that it can quite effectively operate as both.

Now I don't say that prison is a nice place to be, even at the "Martha" level, but they certainly aren't what they once were. By the time the laundry list of things that criminals cannot be denied is compiled, and added to the list of things that they can't be forced to do, the idea of prison as punitive is nearly laughable. There is also no excuse for the average per-prisoner annual expenditures to run about two to three times the annual salary of a law abiding citizen making minimum-wage.

My question is not why a death penalty, but rather why a life sentence? If someone has been deemed unfit to ever re-enter society, what is the point of sustaining them to a ripe old age at the expense of the state? If they can't coexist with their fellow man, why should they be a tax burden upon him?

I'll concur with the argume... (Below threshold)

I'll concur with the arguments thus far in favor of capital punishment.

But a related question presents itself: why is it cruel and unusual punishment to place every prisoner in solitary confinement, but not cruel and unusual punishment for those who have not committed capital crimes to be confined within reach of people known to be capable of murder? Not to mentioned an environment known to have a high incidence of rape?

And how much are the thugs actually being punished if they get a steady supply of victims for their sadistic amusement?

I would suggest, in addition to capital punishment, all prisoners not being executed be placed in solitary confinement, for their own protection and to deprive those who perpetrate vicious acts for fun of an entertainment opportunity.

As for capital punsihmen... (Below threshold)

As for capital punsihment: I'm a Christian, and no Christian worthy of the name supports it.

So Jesus Christ wasn't a Christian?

"As for capital punsihment:... (Below threshold)

"As for capital punsihment: I'm a Christian, and no Christian worthy of the name supports it."

Others have already addressed this sweeping statement, but there's one thing I'd like to add.

You really, really need to go study the Noahide laws. After Noah got off the ark, God gave him some laws. They predate the 10 Commandments. They are very important, as they are the basis upon which all the laws were built.

Guess what one of them is? If somebody kills another in cold blood, that person should be executed, which means Christians have very good grounds for supporting capital punishment. Remember, under Jewish law 2 people had to see you do it, so there has to be no doubt before execution, but it is still allowed.

"Dan S",J... (Below threshold)

"Dan S",

Jesus Christ himself had opportunity to prevent several instances of capital punishment and chose not to. One was his own. He prevented the execution of neither the thief who repented, nor the unrepentant one. Nor did he give any indication that he considered either execution to be inappropriate.

To equate Christ's acceptance of His own sacrifice, and the execution of the two thieves, as His endorsement of capital punishment, is such a shamelessly obscene sophistry that it is stunning anyone calling themselves a Christian would make it.

The rest of the narrow legalisms you spout are utter Pharasaic drivel. But to say that Christ's own death is His endorsement of capital punishment is such a mockery of Christianity -- and of common sense -- that I'm gobsmacked that any adult "Christian" would write that.

Scott - Would ... (Below threshold)

Scott -

Would you care to attribute to Dan S anything else that he did not say?

He did NOT say that Jesus explicitly endorsed capital punishment - simply that he did not prevent or object to it in the specified cases.

Also, I would appreciate a pointer to the "narrow legalisms" in his writings that "are utter Pharasaic drivel", since I can't find them.

I believe you came to this discussion pre-equipped with a conclusion, and that this has led you to wrongly attack a person who made a very clear and informed presentation about why this point is, at the very least, eminently debateable.

It would be more helpful to the discussion if you would present analysis of what the writers actually say, rather than disparaging conclusions that are the product of your thinking, rather than theirs.

Scott Ferguson:When ... (Below threshold)

Scott Ferguson:
When Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, to what was he referring? There are two distinct areas covered under the Old Testament law, man's duty to God and man's duty to man. Which of those was in need of the fulfillment that Christ brought? Only those laws which prescribed adherance to practices that pointed towards His atonement. Can you find anywhere in scripture where Christ lowered the bar on any law that govern relations between individuals? There are none. One can only deduce that those laws were counted good and proper by Christ, or He would most certainly have taught against them.

I think it's quite commendable that you unashamedly voice your tenets of faith, but you should avoid attacking fellow Christians for their stance on an issue such as this. It is actually quite arrogant of you to question whether others are "true Christians" or to somehow qualify their beliefs based upon your own understanding of a belief structure in which you are obviously woefully under-studied.

Please note that at no time have I questioned your faith, Scott, I have only drawn into question the time and effort you have expended in gleaning, from Scripture Alone, the knowedge necessary to effectually proclaim and defend the tenets of your faith.

Giving someone two d... (Below threshold)

Giving someone two different life sentences for two different crimes makes sense to me, since if you appeal one decision and the new trial finds you innocent you still have to serve the life sentence for the other crime.

My two cents:First... (Below threshold)

My two cents:

First of all, Scott Ferguson may or may not be well studied. However, that doesn't change my opinion that he hasn't studied the Bible all that much, as opposed to whatever commentaries support his views, as he has stated above.

Second, to expand a bit on SilverBubble's comment: the narrative of Genesis 4 through 8 suggests that man became thoroughly corrupt very quick (notice Cain's actions early on). This passage should be most telling to the reader:

Gen 6:5-8,11
5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them."...11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.

This antediluvian period (from the Fall of Man to the Flood) covers roughly 2,000 years; a time period that seems long, until the reader considers that lifespans were roughly 10-11 times longer than now (longest being Methuselah, at 978 years). So, essentially two generations from Adam, the whole thing has fallen apart. In an age without law (as such) from God, fallen Man became so violent that God decides to destroy them all, save Noah and his family.

Hence, the latter part of the first rule given by God when Noah and family step out of the Ark has to do with establishing the source of, and importance of, life: don't drink the blood of what you kill. Right behind that one, the second rule establishes the value of human life:

Gen 9:6
"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man.


Therefore the Scripture in these verses (and related narrative) clearly illustrates a) the inherent violence in Man's fallen nature; and b) that because only God has the power to arbitrarily give and take life, taking one's life arbitrarily means that you instantly forfeit your own.

BTW I like immensely what Dan S wrote earlier, and would add to his comments that warfare should fall under the State's power to give and take life, all else being equal.

Fascinating discussion, even if Jay is kinda on the sidelines of this one (due to his previously stated beliefs regarding such things).

Maybe one can find some hap... (Below threshold)

Maybe one can find some happy middle ground between no additional punishment and a death sentence with the reintroduction of hard labor?

It could be reserved for this sort of situation. I doubt many prisoners would look forward to working in the salt mines (or whatever the modern equivalent happens to be).

Quite true, Wanderlust, and... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Quite true, Wanderlust, and I appreciate you recalling that.

But putting on the "disinterested third party" hat for a moment, I will contribute two things:

1) Some Biblical scholars say that "Thou Shalt Not Murder" is a truer interpretation of the Commandment;

2) I am inclined to categorically reject any law or legal decision that is based purely on theological grounds. They usually have a bit more behind them (common sense, culture, tradition, common law), so the fact that the Bible backs them up doesn't bother me.

And yes, I make a Christmas exception. It's a good time of year for a break anyway, and the decorations are either aesthetically pleasing or garish to the point of laughable. I don't find them threatening in the least.


Regardless of where you sta... (Below threshold)

Regardless of where you stand on capital punishment -civilization requires that we provide protection for prisoners -not only from being murdered ,but from being raped as well. If you think otherwise then to continue to be a nation of laws and not street(prison) justice, we need to incorporate prison rape and /or murder as part of the sentence. As far as the Christian bit is concerned, God did say quite clearly that "Vengence was His!"

NicholasThe modern e... (Below threshold)

The modern equivelant of "hard labor" is to make the guilty one wear panties on his head!

Jay,I agree with y... (Below threshold)


I agree with your second point completely - as far as I can tell, where Biblical precepts have made their way into modern law, at least in the States, it has been because that precept has a clear, easily understood moral foundation that supports and reinforces the Democratic ideal of pursuing life, liberty, and happiness...so long as your pursuit of those things does not hinder someone else from having the same opportunity to pursue them, as would you, all else being equal.

(Well, at least Democratic in the abstract - can't speak for the Party of the same name anymore, unfortunately.)






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