The big news this week is James Holmes’ parents coming out against the death penalty for their son (http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/colorado-shooting-suspect-james-holmes-parents-speak-out-on-death-penalty/). As you may recall, Mr. Holmes was the individual who shot 12 people dead and wounded 70 more in a Colorado movie theater. A lesser known fact is that he rigged his apartment to explode when police would enter a few hours after the shooting and his capture. Due to a diligent bomb squad, the building that his apartment was in was spared the destruction.
James’ parents have come out with the insanity defense, saying that their son was not in his right mind and therefore should not be charged with the death penalty. You have to feel for them, especially for his mother; what parent wants to believe they raised a monster?
With his mental state in question, the death penalty may seem too harsh. To the victims, however, I’m sure a death penalty doesn’t seem harsh enough. What to do? sympathy for his family needs to be tempered with sympathy for the victims. His sentence needs to be just, but perhaps should also be seen as a deterrent for those planning similar shootings.
The harsh reality is, if he gets the death penalty, it could be very expensive. If he gets life in prison or getting psychiatric help, its going to be very expensive. According to one site (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty) if the prosecutor tries for the death penalty and gets a conviction, the case could take 4 calendar years longer, incurring many hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. That money doesn’t appear out of nowhere; it will most likely come from taxpayer dollars. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, don’t you believe that you should have a choice whether to be paying for the life of a man like James Holmes? I know I would.
Here, I think, the free market should come into play with a solution that might satisfy everyone (except James Holmes). Every year, James Holmes needs to raise enough money to pay for his life. According to one site (http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412693-the-growth-and-increasing-cost-of-the-federal-prison-system.pdf) that is about $34,000 for a high security prisoner. It seems fair that he can seek others to help him with this cost – He can get help from his parents, associations interested in studying him, and any group that is willing to pay to keep him alive. If the money isn’t raised either by him or for him, he is dead. Those that want to keep him alive can try, and those that think he shouldn’t live while those he killed are dead can be satisfied, at least, with not contributing to his life in any way.