Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Supreme Doesn't Mean Correct
Heaven at KTS today brings up a good point- if the killers (Sadie, Tex and Katie and Bobby and Bruce and Clem) were given Death Sentences, how could they ever get parole? It has to do with the vagaries of the law.
First off, let's take care of Clem. His trial judge concluded he was almost retarded and did not deserve a death sentence, which automatically overturned the jury decision. He never really had a death sentence. He later cooperated, and got parole. Scary.
The way the law works, if your main sentence is "removed" as in no longer available, you automatically get the next lower sentence. In this case, in 1972 the Supreme Court of the State of California decided that the Death Penalty as it was being doled out without strict guidelines, constituted cruel and unusual punishment and was unconstitutional. Ironically, this was because it was mostly being given to black people.
So immediately, everyone on Death Row got the next lower sentence- life with parole. They could NOT get "life without parole" as this was not an option at the time- this sentence was only taken up by courts in the early 1980s.
Now four years later the Supreme Court, which is only there to INTERPRET the laws, decided the new rules are okay and the Death Penalty came back. BUT it is not retroactive. The killers now had life sentences and that was that. The law allows punishment to go down, not up, for the same offense.
I agree with what Heaven says on an intellectual level, though it doesn't worry me- Tex and Sadie will never walk free. But UNDER THE LAW they have life sentences and UNDER THE LAW have long been entitled to a Parole Date. Change the law I say, don't criticize it.
In Bobby's case, his first trial was hung, in his second Brunner perjured herself, he has been rehabilitated and has remorse. Under the law he is entitled to Parole. Being associated with Charlie, even though he really wasn't in the Family, keeps him locked up.
As far as Charlie goes, I don't think he WANTS to get out so why bother discussing the possibility.
So while I agree that it is bullshit it IS the law.