“One of the major things wrong with the death penalty is that it’s so arbitrary.”
Adam was a pretty happy kid all the time. He was easygoing and liked skiing and hiking and those sorts of outdoorsy things. We had a place out at the lake in Carnation that we would visit in the summer, and we’d swim and goof around. We had a large family, so whenever something happened, no matter what it was—good, bad, or indifferent—the clan gathered, so to speak. When he was in the hospital, they had to almost close down a wing because there were so many people there.
I can’t imagine that the death penalty would have made me feel better. The night that this kid was arrested, his father called me. He was feeling just like I did. He said, “I don’t know what to say to you.” And I said, “I don’t know what to say to you, either.” Which is worse? Would you rather be the parent of the person killed or the parent of the person who did it? Just picture it. If you have to make a choice, do you have me say, “Oh goodie, we’re going to do your kid in because he did my kid in.” What good would that do? It certainly wouldn’t make me feel any better. And you just have another family who not only had to have to live with the fact that their son killed my son, but also that he was now dead, too. It was bad enough for them without that.
I’m a Quaker—and have been all my life, so the death penalty is something that we talk against always, no matter what the circumstances. And having had my son murdered, it’s not only theological, but a personal issue. I just think ending the death penalty is the right thing to do.
One of the major things wrong with the death penalty is that it’s so arbitrary. It really has no relation to facts or anything. Very often the “worst of the worst” do not get the death penalty. The Green River killer didn’t get the death penalty, and that’s about as bad as you can get, I think. There’s no rhyme or reason to the death penalty whatsoever. I think if a murder is a major headline, it’s even more likely to go to the death penalty. The press and the prosecutors and everybody else who has their finger in the pie stirs up public opinion for revenge, retribution, and it shouldn’t be that way. It shouldn’t be legal to murder somebody, even if it’s through a court of law.
Financially, the death penalty is a major drain on our taxes, but I think it has to be that way because of the appeals and the cost of the lawyers and looking for evidence. When you’re dealing with somebody’s life, you have to really research right down to the last page. That’s a major, major expense.
There are more and more states that are doing away with the death penalty, and I just can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t here. There’s no deterrent value in the death penalty, and it is a financial burden. It is, for me anyway, a moral issue. It is no more right for me to advocate to kill the person that killed Adam that it would be for me to say, “It was okay to kill Adam.” It’s just not.