The death penalty for Roof?

Thoughts on this?

A South Carolina prosecutor says she will seek the death penalty for an alleged white supremacist, Dylann Roof of Columbia, who is charged with killing nine black churchgoers in June in Charleston.

“This was the ultimate crime, and justice from our state calls for the ultimate penalty,” 9th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson told a group of reporters shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday….

To state what I’ve stated many times before, if I thought the death penalty was right, this would certainly be a case in which I would apply it.

But I don’t, so I wouldn’t.

I found this particularly intriguing:

In recent weeks, Wilson has met with families of the nine victims. At her Thursday press conference, she told reporters that some family members agreed with her decision and others did not. But in the end the decision was hers, she said….

Often, prosecutors will cite the wishes of victims’ families as reasons to pursue a particular charge or penalty. Which is, of course, wrong in a nation of laws and not of men. The prosecutor is right: It is her decision to make.

That said, do you think she has made the right one? Particularly in this case, when our state was pulled together so dramatically by the gestures of forgiveness by the families.

(I had breakfast this morning with Mark Lett, executive editor at The State. As we were leaving, he asked whether I had ever thought South Carolina could come together like that, so quickly, to remove the flag. I said I certainly had not imagined such a thing. I told him that when I ran into Aaron Sheinin at that first flag rally after the shootings, he and I got to talking about how the very earliest anything could happen would be January. And then I said, “Of course, our governor could call on lawmakers to come back into session especially to take the flag down,” and we both laughed in the cynical way that ink-stained wretches of the press tend to do. And then, two days later, it actually happened. It was a miracle — it was a whole raft of miracles to see those people standing together for such a purpose — and it was brought about by those exhibitions of forgiveness. Which gives us additional reason to regard what the families did with awe and reverence.)

Of course, I suppose there’s a school of thought that you can personally forgive someone, but still believe that person should face the consequences of his actions. And this is a consequence for which our laws provide.

I would say that death is not the right way to go. But that’s what I always say. You?

19 thoughts on “The death penalty for Roof?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    This story is LEADING the NPR site.

    Most American outlets think the most important news today is a court clerk in Kentucky going to jail. I guess, forced to choose, I’d go with Roof.

    European outlets aren’t faced with that choice. They’re leading with the migrant crisis, which Americans don’t care as much about…

    In other words, I’m not doing an Open Thread or VFP today, but I did look, and I did think about it…

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Where’s the news on the Roof case–it’s dog bites man. Of course she’s going for the death penalty. The jailing of the KY clerk was not a foregone conclusion–the applicants did not want it, but the judge said the clerk had declared herself not willing to change if fined, so jail it is.

    2. Mark Stewart

      The migrant crisis in the Eurozone is explicitly illustrating the failure of the European experiment. The migrants don’t just want to be in Europe, they want to be in specific countries that have accommodating illegal immigrant laws and perceived economic opportunities. While our state laws are different from one another, they are much more uniform than is Europe. Europe is still a collection of Individual countries; a federation.

      That’s an inherently week geopolitical structure.

  2. Doug Ross

    Death would be a reasonable punishment for his actions. If some don’t have the stomach for it, cover your eyes and ears. Is not a deterrent, it’s not criel or unusual compared to the crime.

    Our just put him in general population and let things take their natural course. To have to keep him in solitary for decades does noone any benefit. Doesn’t make us a better society. Doesn’t prevent any future killers.

    1. Doug Ross

      I find the death penalty to be inhumane but fully support the right of women to terminate the lives of fetuses.

      I find the death penalty to be barbaric but accept the deaths of innocent people during war as acceptable collateral damage.

      Head explodes.

  3. Barry

    I support the death penalty in limited circumstances as appropriate punishment.

    I support Roof getting the death penalty if that is what the jury decides.

  4. Norm Ivey

    The death penalty is as barbaric as the crime itself, but I’m not demonstrating on behalf of a killer.

        1. Doug Ross

          It’s just difficult to traverse the logical hoops people will go through to justify killing in all cases EXCEPT a convicted mass murderer. 20 week old fetus? Sure. Collateral damage in war? Sorry but not sorry. Suspected terrorist? Fire up the drone and take him out.

          Walk into a church and shoot nine people in cold blood? No way! It might make us look bad as a society.

          1. Norm Ivey

            This is the second time you’ve replied to a comment I’ve made on this blog with a reference that suggests you equate my expressed view with an unexpressed support for abortion. I wish you wouldn’t do that.

            Let me be clear. Abortion is barbaric. War is barbaric. The death penalty is barbaric. The death penalty will one day go away–in my lifetime, I believe. When we wage war, I pray that it is just and short. Abortion is legal and will be for a long time. Reduce unwanted pregnancies with thorough and accurate education and easy access to health care.

            You asked if I support killing the enemy during war. Yes, I do. Do I believe that the war you reference is just? I’ve no way of knowing.

            1. Doug Ross

              I only replied to your comment as an entry point to offer my opinion that there are people who accept all sorts of legal killing but get some sort of moral conscience only when it come to killing murderers as a punishment for their crimes. The logic behind that belief is convoluted. The EASIEST position when it comes to killing anyone as part of our society would seem to be those who kill innocent people. I can’t fathom the mindset that only finds that option worth taking a stand on. Baffling. I don’t know what your opinion is on abortion. But if you do support the right to choose it in any way, it weakens any argument against the death penalty.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I think there’s a lot of hesitation to shoot the enemy in war–that’s why soldiers require a lot of training….

        1. Doug Ross

          So what if they hesitate? They still do it, don’t they? If we need someone to flip the switch to fry Roof, there would be a long line of people willing to do it without hesitation.

  5. Pat

    I haven’t been comfortable with the death penalty, though if there was ever a case for one, the Roof case is it. There have been so many who’ve received the death penalty who’ve been exonerated, I’ve hoped there would be a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty. As a practical matter, a life sentence without parole would be less costly and be easier on the victims’ families in that the death penalty would involve a lengthy appeals process.

Comments are closed.