Column | Another View – Response to the ‘eye for an eye’ letter
Robert Boslett Jr.’s letter – “An eye for an eye,” July 4 Kingman Miner – states that in his opinion “there would be less murders if people know if they get caught they are going to die.” I spent 43 years in law enforcement and conducted interviews with thousands of perpetrators, from murderers to drug dealers. Mr. Boslett’s statement appears to be that of a person who is thinking logically, as a law abiding citizen might, but people who commit murder have a different form of logic from that of the average law-abiding citizen.
Research going back to the 1960s showed that deterrence is based on the likelihood of being caught, not the punishment. This research and new research is still relevant today. The vast majority of persons who commit crimes all know that they can’t be caught. If they believe they can’t be caught then punishment, be it prison or the death penalty, has no effect on the decision to commit a crime. In some cases, going back to prison is the only life they know and they are comfortable with that choice.
Murder can fall into several categories, such as the professional hit man or the mentally deranged serial killer. Then you have the crime of passion or domestic violence that happens in the heat of the moment. Does the person think “I should not stab or shoot my significant other as I could kill them and the cops will catch me and I can be executed for murder?” Trust me, this thought process does not take place when a person is under the influence or is highly agitated. What about the armed robber who kills the employee during a robbery? Did they plan on killing the employee or was it a robbery gone bad?
My view on the death penalty is not relevant to this article. Do your own research and leave out race, religion, sex and political views. Just look at crime and deterrence. Then let your conscience guide you when it comes time to support the death penalty or not. Just do not use faulty logic in your decision.
(Terry Flanagan is a resident of Kingman and a former law enforcement officer.)