Sunday, November 1, 2009

Death Penalty for Killing Prison Guard

The Corrections One site reports on a Florida inmate who was sentenced to death for killing a prison guard.

A Volusia County jury has unanimously recommended the death penalty for prisoner Enoch Hall, who was convicted last week of murdering a state corrections officer.

The jury made its recommendation about 7:30 p.m. Thursday after 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office said.

Hall -- who told officers shortly after the murder that he "freaked out" and "killed her" -- was convicted last week of first-degree murder. He stabbed Donna Fitzgerald 22 times on June 25, 2008.

Prosecutors said the death penalty is an appropriate punishment because of the severity of the crime. Hall, 40, was serving two life sentences for the sexual battery and kidnapping of a 66-year-old woman near Pensacola when he attacked Fitzgerald, 50, who was unarmed, with a shank made of sheet metal.

I'm opposed to the death penalty on principle, but I admit this type of crime brings up a difficult dilemma. How do you punish someone already serving life in prison?

One thing that occurred to me reading the story, at the risk of sounding like I'm blaming the victim, or blaming the system instead of the murderer, is, isn't this a failure on the part of the prison to adequately protect its guards? I know it must be difficult to do, but shouldn't the prison take better precautions with men who have histories of violence? The State of Florida agreed with that.

Because of the murder, three employees were demoted and a new warden was assigned to the prison. Inmates also no longer have unsupervised access to sheet metal and other potential dangers such as welding tools and chemicals.

What's your opinion? Is this the type of crime that even opponents of the death penalty should consider allowing it? What's your opinion?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Since these type of crimes have happened in other prison systems, I have to wonder about the intelligence of the Florida system. Letting prisoners have access to sheet metal and chemicals? Really? What were they thinking?

  2. Prisoners don't need access to sheet metal and chemicals to make weapons. They have shown their ingenuity in making lethal weapons (including firearms) with the stuff that is in their cells.

    What "better precautions" are you suggesting? They are in prison. The guards have to interact on some level with them (unless you are suggesting that we blockade an island and jump paradrop prisoners onto it).

    If the prison system is for reform, then we have to help the prisoners reform (that includes things like education and job skill training). If it is for punishment, then we shouldn't hope that they are going to come out reformed. If it is for retribution, then get on with the death penalty and do it, don't wait 20 years.

    The problem with our prison system is we try to make it all things to all prisoners. Some need reform, some need punishment and a very few need retribution. However, we don't distinguish between them and end up focusing mostly on punishment because that is the easiest (and cheapest) solution. People would rather have their government waste money on buying their neighbor a new car than spend it on turning the population of prisoners that can be reformed around.

    Unfortunately, our parole and release system in the prisons is based on all prisoners being reformed. So in the end, we pretend we're punishing them, then release them as being reformed without actually doing much to reform them. And anyone wonders why there is such a high rate of recidivism?

  3. This is one reason I am still pro death penalty. There has to be a deterrent.

    I'm in prison. I am never getting out. If I kill a guard, then I scan still never get out. That is not much of a deterrent to stop me from killing a guard.

  4. I"m ambivalent about the death penalty for most crimes, but strongly support it for a murder committed in cases like this--where someone has already been convicted of murder, or who is sentenced to life (or the practical equivalent) in prison.

  5. I hear you guys, but my doubt is whether deterrence works. I don't think it does, so that leaves us with punishment and justice and all that good stuff. None of it adds up to the death penalty for me.