My heart goes out the the victims and the surviving family members. The picture of Dylan Groene and the description of what was done to him is enough to make the staunchest anti-death penalty person think twice. As one of them, I wish to express my deepest condolences to all those affected by this terrible crime. In commenting on the merits of the death penalty for Mr. Duncan, I intend no disrespect to anyone involved, also to those not directly involved who are passionate about this issue.
CNN reports the story today because the Idaho federal jury in Boise found Joseph Edward Duncan III eligible for the death penalty. His crimes are as bad or worse than other cases we've discussed recently, here and here. Nevertheless, my position remains unchanged. I cannot condone capital punishment, period. It is state sanctioned murder, completely premeditated and exactly what is proscribed in every set of laws from the Ten Commandments of Moses to the Magna Carta to the United States Constitution. The USA in the 21st century should not need to resort to barbaric practices like this to protect its citizens.
So why are we still doing it then? I believe the answer can be seen in this.
The slain boy's father, Steven Groene, and other family supporters embraced after the verdict but seemed to keep their emotions in check.
It's revenge, payback, whatever you want to call it, but I don't believe it's about justice. These "emotions" they held in check are completely understandable to me, at least as understandable as is possible for an outsider who, than God, has never had to face anything like this. I can understand the desire for revenge; I could even imagine committing murder myself in that situation. But what I can't accept is the government doing it and dressing it up as something justified and wholesome and legal.