Life after the death penalty


Tell me: Does any sane person really believe that the world would be a better and safer place if Rick Stevens had been executed by the state of California?

The guy was all fucked up on drugs when he shot three men. Horrible crime. He spent most of his adult life in prison. And now, at 72, he's out on the streets -- where the odds that he will ever hurt anyone again are infintessimally small.

Instead of spending millions and millions of dollars to kill him, the state gave him a life sentence, with the possibility of parole, which was finally granted. It's hard to argue that justice wasn't done.

This was the legacy of the Rose Bird Court, the most progressive Supreme Court in California history, from back when Jerry Brown was a young governor. Bird and her colleagues didn't like the death penalty, and ultimately ruled that the state's executiion process was unconstitutional. So people like Stevens got a second chance.

Not saying he should have gone free; nobody says that. But the state saved money, and saved a life, by failing to carry out the ultimate punishment. And I think we're all better off for it.