Even at the law school, almost everyone seemed to cheer about the guilty verdict of Letalvis Cobbins. Letalvis Cobbins took part in the rape-torture-murder in 2006 of Channon Christian and of her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom. Immediately after the guilty verdict, most people predicted that Letalvis Cobbins would receive the death penalty. That prediction turned out to be wrong. Instead, the jury gave him life without parole.
In shock, students began posting messages on their facebook status showing their disapproval about the lenient sentence. Apparently, torturing and raping and killing two college students at once is enough to get many people riled up in favor of the death penalty. And without a doubt, this sentiment is the correct one: Letalvis Cobbins should indeed be executed.
But it bothers me to see people get so wrathful only over extreme cases like this one. Most of the time, you can find a good number of idiots in any crowd who will suggest that they oppose the death penalty. Only on occasions where some monster rapes and tortures two college students — before killing them — will enough public anger be aroused to demand blood. Knoxville sees about twenty murders each year. Where is the outrage over those pointless deaths?
The problem is that many people today do not call for blood out a rational sense of justice. They only call for blood out of emotion. When a murder seems gruesome enough and receives enough media attention, then the people get upset. This emotional reaction creates inconsistency. This type of amorality results in the system we have today, where murderers sit on death row for decades before being executed — assuming they even receive the death penalty at all. Most murderers (including, for example, the guy who attacked the Unitarian church last year) receive prison terms. A significant number even receive the eventual opportunity for parole.
The death penalty has grown virtually worthless in American society. Tennessee suffers about four hundred murders each year, and in response, we execute (maybe) one person each year. What good is that? And of course, the people we do execute are typically being punished for crimes they committed at least a decade prior. Dumb leftists frequently cite statistics that purport to show the ineffectiveness of the death penalty in deterring crime. Well, I wonder what might possibly be rendering it ineffective!
This stupidity comes largely from the law itself. We do not simply have moronic juries letting criminals off the hook (although we obviously have some of those, too, as the Letalvis Cobbins case shows). Most people probably do not realize that corrupt Tennessee law actually prohibits the death penalty for many murders.
For one thing, a court may not impose death as a punishment for “second-degree” murder. Second-degree murder is basically the same as first-degree murder — except without “premeditation.” (Premeditation means to mentally plan the murder before committing it.) Since premeditation can technically occur “in an instant,” the whole first- and second-degree murder distinction is essentially bogus. Not only is it unjust, but it makes no sense. I say we just kill all these murderers.
But unfortunately, the stupidity does not stop there. On the contrary, Tennessee law requires that a first-degree murder be especially “aggravated” in order to warrant the death penalty. Factors that can make a murder “aggravated” include: 1) Killing a cop, 2) Killing a judge, 3) Killing a probation officer, 4) Killing a firefighter, 5) Killing a district attorney, [Noticing a pattern here?] 6) Torturing your victim, 7) Killing a young child or someone really old, 8 ) Killing three or more people at once, 9) Killing someone if you already have a felony violence conviction. And there are a few others. But even if the jury unanimously finds that the prosecutor has proven one of these factors, the jury must also find that these aggravating factors “outweigh” all the “mitigating” factors. If the murderer commits his crime under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, clouding his judgment, Tennessee law actually considers that a mitigating factor! Being on drugs can spare you from execution!
Suffice it to say, the law needs to change. Rather than emphasizing the importance of human life, this limited death penalty arguably does the opposite: Yes, we reserve the death penalty for the most heinous of crimes… Killing a human being? No. Killing a police officer or a judge — when not under the influence of any drugs that might cloud judgment. Hah.
And besides changing the law, we need to change this weak public attitude as well. Before executing Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki stated the following: “Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him, and there will be no review or delay.” We need more people like that guy! A murder destroys a human life. It does not matter whether the victim is a cop, a judge, a black person, a white person, an eleven-year-old, a middle-aged man, or a college student. Our respect for human rights demands that we execute the perpetrator — without delay.