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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cruel? Debatable. Unusual? Certainly.

And apart from my opposition to all forms of capital punishment, I have no problem with such an unusual sentence. I am, of course, referring to Lam Luong, who tossed four children, the oldest of whom was 3 years old, off the Dauphin Island Bridge. As I predicted, Circuit Judge Charles Graddick upheld the jury's recommendation of death for Lam Luong. While I feel it is wrong for the state to take the life of one in their custody, in this case, Mr. Luong may actually welcome it when his time comes. I say this, possibly in part, due to a highly unusual stipulation Judge Graddick added to the sentence of death. In fact, I cannot think of a case where this has been done... or where it has been more warranted. Judge Graddick ordered Mr. Luong to look at pictures of the children every day for the duration of his time as a guest of the state.

As I reflect on the case, on the news coverage at that time, on the extreme anguish on the faces of that mother and her family, I also find myself wiping away tears. I'm sorry he will have the release of death. I am sorry he will not suffer longer for what he did. I am sorry that, instead of the average of 11 years on death row for condemned prisoners, he will not be forced to see photos of his victims every day for the next five decades. But above all, I am so very sorry those children do not have the opportunity to grow up, have fun, argue and fight with each other as siblings do, and just generally be kids. I am so very sorry that their mother, instead of visiting them in their rooms and fussing at them about something insignificant but oh so important, must instead make a trip to a cemetery. I am so very sorry we will not get the opportunity to see what good those four children could have done in this world. This is what is so heartbreaking about this crime. I hope that she finds peace and some small measure of solace through her faith and her family, but she shouldn't have to. They should be alive today, but they're not.

I'm sorry. I started crying again. On that note, I will close with music befitting this post.


Snave said...

I have always thought that in cases like this one, the death penalty provides an "out" for the perpetrator of the crimes.

Wouldn't a more suitable punishment be for him to have to spend his life in prison, knowing he would never be allowed to leave and living with his actions every moment for the rest of his life? That would be hell on earth, I would think.

The whole thing is awful, however you look at it.

A mom in Portland recently threw two kids off a bridge. One died. I'm not sure what is going to happen to the mom.... sigh... And like you say, the world will never know what might have happened in the life of the child who was killed.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Every time I think of this case, my heart breaks a little bit more. Four children. Four innocent souls who had their lives taken too soon. And the one child in Portland who died and its sibling who lived, with God-knows what injuries. Two families a continent apart broken by the actions of someone who, for one reason or another, made decisions with tragic results.

We need to study the perpetrators of these crimes, understand why in hopes of preventing more like them. If they need help, give them the help they need, and if they pose a danger to society, then through the workings of our justice system, put them in either corrections or a mental health facility. Lam Luong will escape his prison, his hell, the minute the first drugs are injected in his veins in the death chamber, and I find something almost perverse about that.

1138 said...

"for one reason or another"
"We need to study the perpetrators of these crimes, understand why in hopes of preventing more like them."

And by becoming murderers ourselves I guess we move a little closer to understanding, but not towards your stated goal of prevention.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

1138, I'm far from comfortable with the state assuming the power to end the life of anyone, no matter how much I dislike them and no matter how heinous the crime. By putting Lam Luong to death, I wonder if we may not be jeopardizing the lives of other children in the future.