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Heinous Crimes against Children and the Death Penalty

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Considering over the past few days most of the news coverage and discussions were dominated by the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, we may have overlooked the June 1, 2009 story about a killer and his fate, “In a unanimous decision the California Supreme Court Monday rejected a laundry list of appeals by convicted killer Richard Allen Davis, reaffirming the death sentence handed down for the murder of twelve-year-old Polly Klaas.”

On October 1, 1993, Polly Klaas had invited two of her friends over for a sleepover. Around 10:30 p.m., she opened her bedroom door to grab sleeping bags, when she saw a man with a knife. He tied the girls up, told Klaas' friends to count to one thousand, and then kidnapped Klaas. Over the next two months, about 4,000 people helped search for her. TV shows such as 20/20 and America's Most Wanted covered the kidnapping extensively.

The man responsible for this heinous crime, Richard Davis, confessed to breaking into Klaas' Petaluma home in October 1993 and tying up two of Polly's friends before abducting and strangling the girl. According to the New York Times, Davis was convicted on Tuesday, August 6, 1996.

Mark Danon and Darya Folsom of KRON 4 Morning News reported some of Marc Klass’ reactions to the recent June 1, 2009 ruling . "I had no doubts the death penalty would be upheld. I believe that this is a process that will continue for decades to come and it's really nothing more than a delaying process by the defense bar and the anti-death penalty lobby in this country."

Capital punishment is as controversial and contentious as abortion, and some even try to compare the two, though I don’t see any valid comparison.  The death penalty kills convicted criminals while abortion kills innocent babies. There are so many directions I could take this article and questions I can pose, including but not limited to, the history of capital punishment and how many have been executed as a result. Is the death penalty necessary or humane? What methods are used and what crimes are punishable by the death penalty? What about those who are innocent, juveniles, or have mental problems? Is the death penalty really a deterrent and does it provide justice for those victims (and their families) who suffer and die as a result of violent and brutal crimes?

To me capital punishment is  very complicated and there are so many issues to consider when you are deciding if you are pro- or anti- death penalty. I believe in mercy and redemption, so I am kind of iffy about the death penalty. That being said, what in the hell do we do with the perpetrators of heinous crimes against children, especially when they kidnap, molest, and kill our kids with no remorse? Is the death penalty warranted? I think so!

I am a regular viewer of Nancy Grace (HLN) and Mark Klass is a frequent guest.  He is a class act and is always gracious and extremely informative on crimes against children. Unfortunately Klass’ reason for being in the spotlight is one of the worst possible — that tragic event when his daughter's life was brutally taken away at the tender age of twelve.

Since the kidnap and murder of his daughter, Klaas gave up his profitable rental car franchise to pursue an aggressive child safety agenda. “The Klass Kids Foundation was established in 1994 to give meaning to the death of my twelve-year-old daughter, kidnap and murder victim Polly Hannah Klaas, and to create a legacy in her name that would be protective of children for generations to come.” Whether you are an advocate or opponent of the death penalty (you think it is right or wrong), there is no denying that The Klass Kids Foundation is something we can all agree is the right thing!

As a mother of a twelve-year-old daughter, I can’t imagine what Klass had to endure at the time of this tragedy and every time he has to face more news about his daughter’s murderer. I admire this man who has taken this calamity and turned into a mission of good…a true hero.

Thanks to Marc Klass and others like him, we now have Megan’s Law, the Amber Alert, and The Adam Walsh Children’s Safety and Protection Act. But in my opinion, you can never do enough to protect children! We need to rethink what we are doing to prevent these heinous crimes and ensure our processes to protect our children are top priority. Our procedures to locate missing children should be the most effective possible, while our laws and punishments for crimes against children should be the strictest on the books, even if that means the death penalty.

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About Christine Lakatos

  • JD, sounds very interesting…I will have to get a copy!

  • Great Site. I‘m a retired homicide detective. I have written a book about a case I worked on prior to my retirement in 1993. It’s called “Closed Eyes” This investigation started with the murder of Tracy Neef in 1984. I developed a suspect and followed his where bouts and activities to the murder of Ali Berrelez and JonBenet Ramsey. Its important that this book gets out to the masses. I’m sure after reading it there will be pressure put on the three police departments involved to reopen these cases and make and arrest.

  • Izzy

    There should be no apologies for taking a stand on this issue. It is cut and dry!

    The bible says that we should not Kill. Exacting a punishment for murder is not only NOT killing, but it is also commanded. The purpose for this was so that others would see the consequence (because it was to be done out in plain view) and fear committing the same acts.

    Humans are not playing the role of God when putting someone to death for crimes worthy of death. We humans are just carrying out what GOD Almighty Himself commanded on how to deal with this problem. The problem we have now is that “we” think we are more knowledgeable, loving, caring, and compassionate than God to execute these dangerous people and now there is no fear of consequence. It has gone too far now to correct. There is no rehabilitation for these evil criminals.

    Though the death penalty is no longer a deterrent (our own foolishness at fault) the death penalty is still the ONLY solution.

    For those who feel Europe has a better handle on this then perhaps, you should consider moving there? Don’t forget to send a postcard!

  • Hey Leighhann, my thoughts exactly, especially the last line of your comment. I feel so bad for Marc Klass and the hell he has been through, and this article just reflects my own struggle with the idea. Dead Man Walking was very thought provoking, and I do believe in redemption and mercy, thus I lean towards NO on the death penalty. However, the only case I tend to lean the other direction is when it comes to the type of crimes against children that I list. And the problem is that it happens too often, case in point the little girl in Michigan (Neveah)! As far as scripture and Christianity, well, I will have to do further research on that one!

  • Dovid Blinderman

    The good book says”An eye for a eye and a tooth for a tooth”I dont think G-d knew that hunanady would have Prisions,but I wounder if he knew what man/woman would do with free will? IE. hitler stalin and all the others of the devils spawn.

  • leighann

    I used to be for the death penalty. I do not think I am now. I am still rethinking the matter. When I saw “Dead Man Walking” I started thinking about where I stand on the issue. I then asked myself if I could be the one who actually carried out the punishment. My answer was “no”. If I could not do it myself, it must be becuase I think that there is something wrong with it.
    I then started (should have at the beginning) asking myself what I think God would think about the matter. After the New Testament, I just do not think he would approve. I may be wrong.

    If there is a death penalty, it should definately include those that hurt children. God forgive me, but if someone hurt one of mine, I would kill them myself if it were possible.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    That sounds great,but, how would that work for those who are in for life or on Death Row??
    Actually, Arch, I like your idea a whole lot more.
    Make those murdering f*cks work instead of giving them time to become lawyers or get some sort of education!

    Seriously, the state prisons need to have solar fields that send the stored electricity back to the nearby towns.

  • Arch Conservative

    The state of Virginia has begun charging prisoners for their time in prison. When they are released They are responsible for like something to the tune of 60 per day for every day the spent in the big house.

    I think it’s f-ing great. They should go further and and devise some type of turbine system where the prisoners are forced to turn a wheel by running on it like a hamster so that it would supply the kinetic energy for electricty for nearby towns.

    I can just imagine it……..some lazy murderign scumbag wants to take break on his little himster wheel and the guard lashes him with a whip..”keep going turd, Arch Conervative’s ipod batteries need to be recharged!”

  • Will, a Christian

    The Bible says thou shalt not kill. Only god can make that ultimate judgment. It is wrong to kill. It is not man’s right to decide who should live and who die. I oppose abortion because I value human life. Others who do so for the same reason are being hypocritical when they can’t see human life coursing through the vains of a death row inmate.

    Dead is dead.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    I can agree with Glen but my only contention is that the money used to run these prisons come from our pockets,thus,making this a topic of discussion that falls into the gray area.

    As for religious guidance to make any important decisions…That’s like using the Magic 8-ball.

  • Thanks for the insight Glen, like I said I am kind of iffy on the death penalty, however, when it comes to the types of crimes against children listed in my article, I have a tendency to think they should, but I am till not sure! Life in prison would be hell on earth, so maybe that direction more appropriate. BUT we should ensure they get that, and I don’t thinks that is happening enough! And, remember, we all can’t judge accurately on this topic, unless it happens to US, (which I pray it never does)!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Christine –

    Any monsters who commit such crimes certainly do deserve death…

    …but the innocent who wind up on death row – and there are many – do NOT deserve death. Here’s a list of 133 innocents who were released from Death Row…and these are just the innocents that we KNOW about – the ones who got lucky and weren’t put to death for crimes they didn’t commit.

    I’ve heard conservatives say, “Well, can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs”…but that does not and cannot excuse the execution of innocent people. This is one of the main reasons that our continued use of the death penalty is seen by all of Western Europe as ‘barbaric’…and I agree.

    And it might make you feel better to see the ‘life’ the convicts would face in a Supermax prison: ”
    Rudolph, who was captured in 2003 while scavenging for food behind a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina, wrote that he spends 23 hours a day in his 7-by-12-foot cell, his only exercise confined to an enclosed area he described as a “large empty swimming pool” divided into “dog-kennel style cages.” ”

    I normally wouldn’t post a link to a forum, but a little reading here might change your mind about whether it’s really a kindness to sentence someone to life in prison.

    I can’t find a link to it, but I read about a letter that the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski sent out pleading to be put to death because the Supermax was unendurable.

    On top of all that – if you’re religious – Jesus did not in word or deed approve of the death penalty. In fact, he stopped a group of men about to carry out a death penalty.