HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 2, 2006, Herald Journal

Death penalty protects society


Alfonso Rodriguez, the murderer of Dru Sjodin, was sentenced to death in North Dakota a couple of weeks ago. Pundits have been wondering if Minnesotans want having the death penalty reinstated here. I certainly hope so.

The death penalty protects society. It prevents murderers from murdering again for ever and ever.

Life in prison does not provide absolute protection. Plenty of prison guards and inmates have been murdered inside prison walls.

Remember Jeffrey Dahlmer, the cannibal killer? He was murdered while he was in prison, although he deserved it.

Some don’t though. Recently, a man from St. Cloud was put in jail because of car insurance violations. He was murdered by another inmate.

Just because a convict is put in prison does not mean he will never murder or murder again.

There also is the possibility the murderer will escape from prison. A person who has been sentenced to life in prison has nothing to lose but to try over and over again to escape. That puts the guards and prison officials in extreme danger.

A murderer also could get out of prison by mistake. That’s how Willie Horton got out of prison in Massachusetts. He had been convicted of slicing up Joey Fournier, 17, by stabbing him 19 times. Horton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Society wasn’t safe as it seemed, though.

A 48-hour furlough program was set up to help soon-to-be-released inmates adjust to life outside prison walls. Horton wasn’t eligible for this program because he was sentenced to life, but he was given nine furloughs anyway. After the tenth furlough, he never came back to prison. He escaped to Maryland instead.

On April 3, 1987, Horton bound and gagged Cliff Barnes, pistol-whipped him and slashed Barnes’ torso with a knife dozens of times. Then Horton beat and raped Barnes’ fiance, Angela Miller. As Horton was raping Miller a second time a few hours later, Barnes escaped and got help. Horton tried to get away in Barnes’ car but was finally captured by Maryland police.

Do you think Barnes and Miller felt safe that Horton was locked up in prison for life?

If Horton had been executed after murdering Fournier, he would never have been accidentally furloughed.

Dead is dead. There is no escape and no way for a dead convict to murder anyone else.

Bring back the death penalty.