Yes, it probably sounds like a broken record by now, but the murder of Jerry Martin by the State of Texas accomplished nothing last night. Mr. Martin is dead - as is the prison guard he was convicted of killing. The execution changed nothing.
Mr. Murphy took responsibility for his actions prior to being pumped full of poison. He apologized to the family of the slain prison guard. But the death penalty has hardened us to the degree that Charles Canfield, the surviving spouse of Susan Canfield, wouldn't accept Mr. Murphy's apology.
No, I'm not trying to equate an apology to murder, but proponents of the death penalty claim it brings closure to the families of the victims of murder. It doesn't. Nothing brings closure to such a tragic loss. Mr. Canfield couldn't accept an apology from the man who killed his wife because he was convinced that the state-sponsored killing of Mr. Martin would bring an end to his loss.
It didn't. And it won't. Mr. Canfield realizes that. Despite the fact that Mr. Murphy is now dead, his wife isn't coming back. That is a loss that can never be replaced - no matter how many inmates we strap down to a gurney and pump lethal amounts of sedatives into their bodies.
Mr. Murphy wasn't a nice person. At the time of Ms. Canfield's murder, he was already serving 50 years for attempted capital murder. While he didn't kill Ms. Canfield intentionally, his actions during an attempted escape led to her death.
Be angry at Mr. Murphy. Be as angry at him as you wish. But to kill someone simply because you are angry at them doesn't solve any of society's problems. It serves to desensitize us to violence. It causes us to look the other way when confronted with the reality of life behind bars. We lock people in cages, treat them as less than human and then wonder aloud why they act like animals.
The punishment is being in prison: the time away from home and loved ones, the loss of freedom and choice. There is no societal gain exposing inmates to wanton violence from both guards and fellow inmates. There is no benefit to society in allowing inmates to be raped and sexually assaulted by other inmates.
Yet that's what we do. We get mad at someone for what they've done and then we turn our heads and ignore the savageries they face behind bars. That is, if we don't kill them first.