1. It gives those that deserve it an escape. By that I mean, I think it's better to be put to death than to sit in prison for the rest of one's natural life.
2. Of all of the penalties meted out by our criminal justice system, it is the one that has the greatest potential for abuse by the state, should the state ever assert itself in creating a true despotic regime. One only need look at post-revolution France, to see what I mean.
Today, there is a report that Manson family member Susan Atkins has been denied parole.
No compassionate release for terminally ill Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins, who murdered actress Sharon Tate almost 40 years ago, the California parole board has decided. Doctors and prison officials made the request because she is dying of brain cancer.
Atkins has only about three months to live, doctors say. Her husband told the California Board of Parole that she cannot sit up in bed, her left leg has been amputated and she's paralyzed on her right side. "She literally can't snap her fingers," he said. "She can put sentences together three or four times a day, but that's the extent of it," he said.
As you may recall, Atkins was originally sentenced to death. But later, her sentence and the sentences of other death row inmates at that time (to include Manson) were commuted to life in prison in one of those California moments. Had she been put to death, she would be out of her misery and would never have suffered a damned thing (certainly nothing like suffering she put her victims through).
Now, she is in misery in her illness, cannot be made reasonably comfortable in a prison setting, and her attorneys are asking for her release. To their credit the California Parole Board has rejected that request. Maybe she has given her life to God and truly repented for her evil deeds of 40 years ago. Who knows for sure except her and her Maker?
If she has, good for her. But for this moment, there is still a debt she owes. And if it means her dying in prison never being free on this earth again, so be it.