Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Amy Bishop to go to trial...


The prosecutors are going to request the death penalty, and apparently in Massachusetts, they're going to try to bring her to trial for the death of her brother. (The defense is going to try for the insanity defense).

I have to admit that that incident was something that really shook me. I think it's because it happened in a setting not unlike the one where I work: a Southern university, a biology department, a faculty meeting. While I can't think of anyone on this campus that I would fear in that way (as someone who might try to kill another person), I have been in fairly difficult and emotional meetings. And I have seen the reactions of those who were turned down for tenure.

I don't know. I know that jail is no picnic, but it bothers me that she's sat there for so long - over a year - a year during which her victims were NOT alive, a year where their families had to try to carry on, a year where the campus had to try to rebuild the sense of security and trust.

I also admit to having some conflict about the use of a death penalty. Though I definitely think this woman should never be allowed out on the streets - there's enough evidence that she's a serious danger to society, probably one of those scary, chilly people who lack a conscience (based on what I've read of some of the other things she's accused of).

I don't know. On the one hand, I feel some concerns about the death penalty - there may be cases where it's misused. But in a case like this - or the case of the Oklahoma City bomber - where it's so clear that the person is the person who committed the crime - and where they're apparently unrepentant - I have far fewer concerns. In a way, it's as much to protect the community in the future as it is to mete out justice. Taking Amy Bishop's life will not bring back the people she killed, nor will it restore a sense of security on the campus. (I don't know what UA Huntsville is like right now; I think if on my campus something like the Bishop case happened, I'd think long and hard about staying - too many bad and fearful memories). But it will prevent her from getting out of prison, or being paroled in a misguided fit of sympathy, or something.

I don't know if she's genuinely mentally ill. I tend to think with cases of "not guilty by reason of insanity" there's some hope of treating the person and maybe restoring him or her to some functionality someday. But with someone like Bishop- from what I've read, it seems almost like there isn't a "conscience" there - and that seems very dangerous to me indeed.

I don't know. The man who shot President Reagan is still living out his life in a mental hospital. I know some people have claimed he's "too comfortable" there, that he should have seen more punishment.

I guess I'll say I'd settle for Amy Bishop being locked up somewhere - prison, mental institution - forever, if she's deemed not capable of being tried, or not competent during the time she committed the act. (Though from other things I've read - there was premeditation, which seems to me to suggest that she knew what she was doing at the time and was not simply insane.)

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