South Carolina is adding another killer to its death row. Based on recent history, South Carolinians will have to be re-educated on his horrendous crimes because of the expanse of time to come before he is executed – if he ever is.
Timothy Jones Jr. was sentenced to death by a Lexington County jury in the killing of his five children, ages 8, 7, 6, 2 and 1. He drove around with their bodies for nine days.
The case reinforces why society wants the death penalty as a tool in the justice system and why our leaders seem determined to have and use execution as punishment.
Yet is will also come to reinforce how little effect the death penalty has as a deterrent because of the time it takes to carry out the sentence.
The death penalty is the ultimate punishment for the worst of criminals. We must be certain, with a defense being vigorously mounted for accused criminals, that guilt is established. After it is, at present, a flawed legal process allows those sentenced to death to remain on death row for two decades and longer as appeal after appeal is filed. That’s not the way the process should work. Capital cases should receive top priority, getting a thorough and complete review. And they should be handled quickly.
Appeals should be prioritized. Last-minute stays, as a matter of routine, are as inexcusable as the years it takes from sentencing to execution.
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Recent years have seen the problem grow more pronounced.
Executions and new death sentences have been declining in South Carolina and across the United States. South Carolina has not executed anyone since May 6, 2011.
The complication has been in the method: use of lethal injection.
States have been unable to obtain drugs because pharmaceutical companies that compounded them in the past have received a great deal of outside pressure to end the practice.
Without the drugs, states have had no way of executing inmates on death row unless, as in South Carolina, they choose to die by electrocution.
While lethal injection remains the most acceptable method of administering capital punishment, complications surrounding the process should not mean capital punishment is non-existent.
Still, the method of execution is not the primary problem.
Until we change the legal procedures surrounding capital cases, the death penalty is not even very good as societal retribution. Too many times there is sympathy for the person being executed as the stories of the victims are deep in the past. The victims, let us remember, are not around to tell their stories. Their family and friends are punished as cases drag on and on.
Call punishment by death or life in prison with no chance to get out nothing but retribution if you will, but time it is for people to pay the price for their actions.
If the electric chair is the only certain method of execution available in South Carolina, use it.