<< Investigate This | Main | News Scan >>


Life Sentences and Incapacitation

| 8 Comments
This AP report from Monroe, Washington provides yet another grim reminder that a life sentence is not 100% effective at incapacitating a convict from committing further crimes.

A corrections officer who had raised concerns about being the sole guard in the chapel of a Washington state prison was strangled there over the weekend, and an inmate serving a life sentence is the primary suspect, authorities said Sunday.

Jayme Biendl, 34, was found dead Saturday night in the chapel at Monroe Correctional Complex about 30 miles northeast of Seattle, Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said. She had been strangled with a microphone cord.


8 Comments

The murder of a prison guard by an inmate should be an automatic death sentence, Woodson v. North Carolina and Simmons be damned.

Abolitionists conjecture that we have executed ___ number of innocent people in the past several years (Fill in any number you want. Why not? They do.)

What is not a matter of conjecture is that numerous innocent people have been murdered by previously convicted killers who legally were subject to the DP but had not been put to death. These killers exploited our inexplicable delay, moral confusion and irresolution by continuing on their merry way.

Now yet another person has paid the price for abolitionism's moral preening.

Will this stop them? Has it ever? What will actually happen is that this latest murder will be ignored or dismissed as a "tragedy" in the same sense an earthquake is a tragedy.

We can't do anything about an earthquake but we can sure as hell do something about this and similar episodes. What we have here is the gruesome result of impenetrable moral opaqueness masquerading as high-mindedness.

Abolitionists should cover themselves in shame, if they had any.

Bill, while I agree with many of your points above, this case is not an example of "abolitionism's moral preening" as Beindl was not serving a life sentence for murder. Rather it was rape and kidnapping.

I meant to write the inmates name, Scherf, not the the victim's name which is Jayme Biendl. My apologies.

As a former prison employee, I would always grimace when abolitionists claimed that we could protect society with LWOP. That is only true if prison employees and other prisoners are not part of "society."

I'd like to echo what David Boyd posted above. Bill, although I agree with you generally, the inmate in question here was serving LWOP because he was a 3-striker, not because of a prior conviction for an otherwise death-penalty-eligible offense. None of the inmate's priors were death-penalty-eligible offenses.

On the other hand, I strongly suspect he will be charged with a death-penalty-eligible offense now, and deservedly so.

What a horrible tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to the young officers family.

David Boyd and notablogger are correct in that this particular inmate is not an example of a "previously convicted killer" whose ability to do it again was facilitated by the absence of a death penalty. Thank you both for the correction.

The overall point remains sound, however. Although this inmate was serving LWOP for a non-homicide offense, the complete abolition of the DP would allow previously convicted killers in exactly this inmate's situation (LWOP) to kill again with impunity, and the circumstances in which they could do so are likely to be very similar to the circumstances of this case. In other words, abolitionism, while claiming the moral high ground, is the sure road to preventable murder. When LWOP is the most you can get, ever, you have handed dangerous and violent inmates a license to kill.

For abolitionists to lecture the rest of us from on high while knowingly facilitating preventable murder is indeed preening. In fact, it is, in my view, a good deal worse than preening.

None of that, of course, excuses factual errors on my part, and I again thank David Boyd and notablogger for setting me straight.

"In other words, abolitionism, while claiming the moral high ground, is the sure road to preventable murder. When LWOP is the most you can get, ever, you have handed dangerous and violent inmates a license to kill.

"For abolitionists to lecture the rest of us from on high while knowingly facilitating preventable murder is indeed preening. In fact, it is, in my view, a good deal worse than preening.

I don't take the view that abolitionism is per se immoral, and I think it's possible to take a principled view that the government should simply be without the power to execute. I don't share that view, but I also don't think that it's a fair method of argument to accuse abolitionists of "knowingly facilitating preventable murder." I join the view that many abolitionists are insufferable scolds, but I think that there's a difference between your run-of-the-mill abolitionist (even that word is an annoyance, since it evokes the moral cause of the anti-slavery movement) and abolitionism. I do wonder about the moral exhibitionism shown by many of them and their air of moral superiority. In the real world, most people don't get too worked up about a murderer paying with his life for his crimes, so I question the vociferousness of their views. My guess is that most of them are addicted to the heady feeling of proving their supposed moral superiority over the rest of us.

We should never ever cease to remind abolitionists that it is the cause of murderers that drives them. That fact obligates them to keep their arguments within bounds of fair argument. Making baseless accusations against prosecutors, judges, jurors etc. is beyond unacceptable. I'd prefer to ruthlessly police their methods, rather than coming just short of calling them accomplices to murder.

Leave a comment