Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No death ... but what kind of life?

What passes for good news these days is when people who commit terrible crimes due to symptoms of an untreated mental illness are spared the death penalty.

In Ohio, one prosecutor is mad about it. He swears that Gordon Franklin, 39, will spend the rest of his life behind bars. “We will do all we can to ensure [he] never leaves prison, which is all we can do in this case."

You may remember that Franklin beat his 13-year-old daughter to death with a golf club. You may also remember that he is severely ill with bipolar disorder and was not taking medication.

And California, it looks like the prosecutor will not seek the death penalty for Lashaun Harris, who threw her three children to their death in the bay last week.

There is no good resolution to stories like these – jail is a pretty terrible place for someone with a severe mental illness, and too often you hear that once they are restored to competency, they become suicidal contemplating what they have actually done.

And these cases are far too common. The best solution is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Feeling (understandable) relief that someone won't be put to death for killing their child is a pretty poor second choice.

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