Life Without Parole
The 20+ years that the doomed man appeals his case and sits in solitary confinement is 20+ years without the perks that he definitely doesn't deserve and which ordinary lifers do get. Books. TV. Sunlight. I guess you could include gang affiliation and rough sex.
Oh, and a decent night's sleep. The great thing about a condemned man's twenty years of appeals is that every sleepless night gets him one day closer to that nagging final beyond that sits smiling right down the hall. What a monkey to have in your cot with you.
But secondly, more importantly, I threw in a practical concern that I don't think enough people appreciate: Bargaining power.
Seriously, say what you will about the death penalty not being a deterrent to capital crime. Honestly, I can understand that taking upwards of 25 years to actually execute a death row inmate, isn't scaring anyone straight on the outside. Fair enough. "BUT," I said:
If we never in fact execute another death row inmate I still think the death penalty has done its job. How so, you ask?
I'll answer with a question: Under what other circumstances could you ever see a convicted criminal BEGGING AND PLEADING for Life in Prison with No Parole?
Well, time's up. None. I'm perfectly thrilled to live in a state where the heinous special-circumstances worst of the worst scum, have to actually HOPE for Life without Parole (LWOP) instead of the alternative.
And, if we didn't have this system in California where LWOP is a BEST ALTERNATIVE for a Special Circumstances defendant we wouldn't have nearly the number of guilty pleas for capital crime as we do, either.
[Hey - I blockquoted myself! Very very cool.]
Anyway, the Olympic Bomber Jackass is my told-ya-so CASE IN POINT.
If there were no death penalty then he would have no reason to plead guilty - we would be spending the next five freaking years having a trial for this noodlehead that would have allowed him and his ilk to filibuster the process and make statements of their righteousness, all for possibly ending up with a hung jury or lesser charges or, worse, an acquittal.
I always just wonder, if a decade ago, L.A. had announced their intent to rigorously pursue the death penalty in the O.J. trial, you know, for the murders he sloppily committed, would O.J. have simply pled guilty and accepted life without parole?
Actually, I don't wonder at all.
He would have.