Sentencing Wars: The Green River Murderer Versus The D.C. Sniper
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
To say there is some sort of egalitarian consistency, instead of arbitrary sentencing by judges, regarding punishments for like crimes in American, is laughable. Gary Ridgway, the Green River Murderer, a white male, pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first-degree murder in Washington state recently, and got life in prison. John Allen Muhammad, the "D.C.Sniper mastermind," a black male, has pleaded guilty to one count of murder in Virginia, and was sentenced to death. Now, that is a pretty big difference in treatment for like crimes. Just what *do* the judges use as criteria to come out with such a wide variation in sentencing for like crimes in American courtrooms?
I understand that different states may have different variations on laws, but murder is murder. The sentencing, I would assume, would vary based on maybe the gruesomeness of a crime, or the intent. But Ridgway's crimes of murder were more heinous than Muhammad's, and were premeditated, and he *still* got the lesser sentencing of the two. And his numbers of dead greatly overshadowed the numbers Muhammad has pleaded guilty to, that is for sure. So if the sentencing is not based on numbers at all, and it is not based on the heinousness of the crime, and it is not based on premeditation, what the hell *is* it based on? The state you commit the crime in, and your skin color? I am really confused about this.
And it was not enough to get one death sentence on Muhammad. Just in case the appeal in his first murder conviction is overturned and he gets life in prison instead of death, they are prosecuting him a second time now, to get a second death sentence on him so his death is confirmed. I am not defending the horrific crimes these men committed, I am defending a civilized legal system. I am defending the cherished concept of a fair trial. Yes, even for the criminal. *Especially* for the criminal! A civilized legal system does not just kill whoever the mobs hate or accuse in the public square. That is really just the hanging-in-the-public-square mentality we are supposedly trying to rise above. To have any credibility at all, America cannot say it believes in egalitarian justice and punitive consistency, and then provide court systems that are mockeries of logic and equality.