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Aleshire: Death penalty backers accept its costs

April 30, 2008|By KRISTIN ALESHIRE

Like any other citizen, I am affected by the news we receive each day. I am moved by the good that we accomplish with a desire to do more. And, I feel equally moved to express the need for appropriate punishment for those who purposefully harm our innocent fellow citizens.

In the recent past, this community has been directly affected by some of the most heinous acts of child abuse, rape and murder.

All of these acts have led to the indefinite incarceration of individuals who have clearly demonstrated a complete absence of caring for their fellow man.

As each story unfolds, netting no real opportunity for rehabilitation, let alone release back into society, I cannot help but feel alarmed as the cost to incarcerate criminals continues to escalate.

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That expense is borne by a community that in some instances is not protected, even after the criminal is imprisoned.

Regardless of political climate or party affiliation it is not logical to believe our citizenry can continue to absorb the increasing social and financial burden of such crimes.

That's especially true when weighed against the growing impact those items place on our ability to utilize the public's tax dollars to fund services that, if provided, would result in the forward progress of our society.

This growing disparity is exemplified by the multi-million-dollar projects in this community, often on behalf of the state, under the banner of public safety protection.

But those expenditures mostly benefit a growing and increasingly dangerous prison population, made up primarily of criminals who have committed crimes elsewhere.

As I read these seemingly endless stories and I look at my family, I ask myself how I can ever expect to leave this community better for future generations and move it forward, if I fail to address one issue.

That is the steadily slipping tide of proper condemnation for the growing number who would seek, in so many harmful ways, to destroy our community.

Opponents who use the argument that "the death penalty does not deter crime and costs more in the long run" don't understand one thing about proponents.

Those who support capital punishment for these heinous crimes would rather pay to see the process through.

The alternative would be to accept the thought that their limited personal funds are being expended to maintain the life of a criminal who forfeits such rights when their criminal acts severely damage or take the life of an innocent and, in many cases, helpless human being.

I believe that capital punishment is an appropriate law, and that when the decision is made to provide "life" in prison versus the penalty of death, the growing expense to the public for such rulings should not receive our silent agreement.

Kristin Aleshire is a Washington County Commissioner.

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