A Black Catholic Supporter of the Death Penalty
It must have been with a great deal of chagrin that capital-punishment opponents learned that Baltimore County prosecutors asked for the death penalty in every case where it applied, regardless of the race of the defendant. Then opponents of capital punishment tried what they must have thought was an end-run: focus on the race of the victim.
Ah, they said, those who murder whites were more likely to get the death penalty than those who murder blacks. But a closer look shows their argument doesn't hold up. Murderers get the death penalty for felony murder, homicides committed in the act of committing some other felony. FBI murder trend stats for the years 1976-2005 show that most of the victims of felony murder are white, while most of the perpetrators are black.
I'm all for discussing racial disparities, but let's discuss all racial disparities, not just the ones that bolster your position. And the racial disparity in felony murder victims relative to perpetrators is rarely discussed.
What cinches the argument for me as a death-penalty proponent is the question, How are we to punish murderers who've killed not once, but multiple times? Specifically, what is the appropriate punishment for a convicted murderer who then murders another inmate or a corrections officer while he's serving time for another violent crime?
David McGuinn, a corrections officer, was murdered in a Maryland prison three years ago. Two inmates serving life sentences for murder have been charged with the crime. For three years I've been asking Marylanders who want the death penalty abolished how, if those men are found guilty, do we punish them for murdering McGuinn?
It's a question that hasn't been answered yet by those who oppose the death penalty. For those of us who support it, the answer seems obvious.
Gregory Kane is a columnist with the Washington Examiner. He lives in Baltimore, MD.