Hollywood’s favorite cop killer got some closure in his life and avoided that long walk to the gallows:
Prosecutors on Wednesday abandoned their 30-year pursuit of the execution of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther whose claim that he was the victim of a racist legal system made him an international cause celebre.
Abu-Jamal, 58, will instead spend the rest of his life in prison. His writings and radio broadcasts from death row had put him at the center of an international debate over capital punishment.
Flanked by Officer Daniel Faulkner’s widow, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced his decision two days short of the 30th anniversary of the white policeman’s killing.
Not only am I fine with this decision, I think it was long overdue.
We have talked about the death penalty before. I would consider myself a reluctant advocate of the death penalty. An advocate in that the people should decide what society they want to live in and they have decided (along with judicial permission, of course) that they consider the death penalty appropriate for certain crimes. And you can not argue the fact that when applied it does a pretty good job of making sure that the murderer does not murder again. The problem that we have, and why I use the word “reluctant” is that proper retribution is only served when it is meted out in a timely manner. The system we have in place removes any possibility of that. Yes, it is necessary to protect society from criminals, but protection is only one aspect of doing time, a toll must be extracted, so punishment goes hand in hand with protection.
But not only is the appeals process costly, and in an era of austerity costs must be weighed in almost all governmental decisions, but the decades it takes for it to run it’s course removes any chances at all that the victims or the victims families can have for closure and causes them even more pain by dragging them along through the process as well. At this point I have reached an attitude where the law is useless (worse then useless in that it inflicts more emotional pain to those involved) and would not mind abolishing capital punishment. Life without the possibility of parole can meet the definition and intent of retribution.
Williams said he reached the decision with the blessing of Faulkner’s widow, Maureen.
“My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters, who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom,” she said Wednesday. “All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us.”
Totally understandable. After 30 years, it was time to make a decision, and knowing that Mumia will never see the light of day will provide some finality to the widow, closure that the entire process never afforded her.
For my own self, I would prefer capital offenders to spend their days making little rocks out of big rocks, making license plates, or doing something that earns their keep and mitigates the cost of their upkeep. But the rest of your life behind bars is a fair price and worthy of the word “justice” when you take the life of another.