Thursday, Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to Life in prison without parole for the 17 murders on Valentine’s Day, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A good summary article from CNN is here.
Three members of the Jury declined to vote for the Death Penalty, permitted under Florida Law. This has led to outrage. I’m not surprised that there was not unanimity on the death sentence.
The post-decision outrage was predictable. Cruz committed a heinous crime.
I think the Life Without Parole was equally predictable. Three people, for whatever reasons, did not believe that state imposition of death on the perpetrator was an appropriate penalty.
I’m wasn’t on the Jury, of course. Had I been in that room, I doubt that I could have signed on to Death, particularly since the penalty of Life in Prison had already been agreed upon.
Vengeance – ‘an eye for an eye’ – seems a default response to actions such as the one carried out by Nikolas Cruz and his companion, an AR-15. So does Life in Prison. If memory serves, Cruz wants to die. Odds are that his life span in prison will not be normal for someone his age.
Of course, Cruz’s gun and its millions of companions go unpunished in any way, free to commit the next carnage someplace. We have blinders on.
Life in Prison is unproductive, as were things like Debtors Prison in olden days. It solves nothing.
Restorative Justice seems to be a useful concept to really learn about. The identified link seems to be a useful portal for beginning.
Another place to learn is The Forgiveness Project.
I personally know people in both Restorative Justice and The Forgiveness Project. At minimum, take time to learn.
Neither concept is easy, but the alternatives – vengeance and lifelong incarceration – are not good alternatives for either the convicted or the society which did the convicting.
What Cruz did was a heinous crime. Do we solve anything by piling on? Similarly, do we solve anything by not calling to account the kind of weapons which made his carnage possible? In Cruz’ case, the accomplice was a legally purchased AR-15.
POSTNOTE: I’ll always remember seeing the then-new film, Dead Man Walking, in 1996. It is still available on-line, and worth the time.