Our justice system has developed a dual standard, alternately meting out the death penalty and life in prison in comparable cases. In fact, some who conspire to commit the same crime are punished quite differently. Consider the teenage trio convicted in the murder-for-hire of Fort Worth socialite Caren Koslow.
Kristi Koslow masterminded the gruesome killing and recruited her boyfriend and an acquaintance to carry out her plan. She was sentenced to life in prison. Brian Salter agreed to testify against his girlfriend in exchange for a life sentence. Jeffrey Dillingham exercised his right to a fair trial and was sentenced to die. Mr. Dillingham sought clemency, claiming a disparity of punishment. His request was denied, and he was executed in 2000.
We need a consistent standard.
But as long as capital punishment remains an option, it will be viewed as the ultimate goal, and prosecutors will face pressure to meet that goal.
Once again, it comes down to the same issue: Consistency, or rather the lack thereof. And it's not just people who plea bargain to try to get a better deal. When someone in a drug deal gone wrong could get the death penalty, while a mass murderer like Terry Nichols gets life without parole, there's something really wrong.
LWOP is in many ways an even harsher sentence than death -- because one never knows when the Grim Reaper will call whereas with death the state presumes the role of the sickle. And it's a life sentence, meaning natural life, that should be the standard for murder one -- in all countries.
Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.