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An Aggravated Assault On Death Row

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The primary reasons for punishing people who have committed serious offenses are retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, and rehabilitation.  Prison largely incapacitates, but not entirely, as this AP story reminds us.

Officials say a prison guard is recovering after he was attacked by a condemned inmate on California's death row.

They say 27-year-old Jesse Manzo assaulted the San Quentin State Prison correctional officer Thursday evening as he was being escorted back to his cell after taking a shower.

Manzo slipped his wrist out of an open handcuff and used the handcuff to hit the officer several times.

Officials said Friday that the officer was taken to an outside hospital for treatment of cuts including a significant facial injury.

Manzo has been on death row since 2013.

He was convicted of first-degree murder in Riverside County for the 2008 gang-related hate crime killing of Raymond Franklin.
Given that he has only been on death row three years, this is not a case where we can say he should have been executed already.  Even so, this is a reminder that he will be a danger from now until he is executed.  If the repeal initiative passes, he will be a danger from now until he dies of other causes, which may be a very long time.

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I would add that, if repeal passes, it will amount to a license to kill, for this man and for other capital inmates. With only a life sentence to serve no matter what, every such inmate will know that his next murder -- and the next and the next -- will be a freebie.

The usual response to this is that we can just increase prison security. What tripe. There have been two murders at federal Supermax in Colorado, the most secure prison consistent with Eighth Amendment standards in the world. And any attempt to increase security will be fought tooth-and-nail by the very people seeking to eliminate the death penalty.

None of this is to mention the central question, to wit, whether multiple sadistic murder deserves the death penalty, or instead deserves the opportunity for many additional years of menacing others and suing the state about the size of the TV you have available.

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