Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Editorial: Why do violent felons walk free?

If I read this correctly, the unnamed Courier editor is advocating mandatory life sentences for every violent offense. It would be fascinating to hear the editor argue this in a case of, say, a drunken bar brawl in light of the actual cost of incarceration and the inevitable effect this would have on his taxes.

Public safety matters, but perfect public safety is simply not possible in a nation that values freedom. Criminals will exist, cops and innocent people will be hurt and die, as long as we value our humanity more than imaginary safety. It's part of the price of liberty.

Before lightly dismissing the idea that our culture of adolescent worship of guns and violence might have had anything to do with this problem, the editor asks a few plaintive rhetorical questions demonstrating only his lack of imagination. Were he a journalist, he might have taken a more constructive tack with this and put those questions and others to some of our judges, prosecutors, corrections professionals and maybe a psychologist or social scientist. He might have got a good, informative story out of it. Instead, we get this pitiful waste of space.

Editing note: The editor leaves a crucial fact out of this piece, assuming that everyone knows it: the alleged shooter was in prison here for nearly four years on aggravated assault and related charges (AZ Dept of Corrections). That omission makes his argument nonsensical within the piece.

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