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Punishment should fit the crime in Wisconsin

Christopher Johnson, Opinion Writer
March 27, 2013
Filed under Opinion

There is no crime more heinous than murder. In some of those instances, the atrocities committed against other human beings are so beyond the scope of comprehension it’s scarcely believable they actually happened.

Such is the case out of Sheboygan County last year, in which two Justin Bieber-looking 14-year-old boys stand accused of allegedly beating and hacking one of the accused’s great-grandmother to death with a hammer and hatchet.  Authorities said once Antonio Barbeau and his pal Nathan Paape were finished killing their 78-year-old victim, they allegedly decided to steal her vehicle and drive to a nearby bowling alley and enjoy a pizza. In spite of their age, both youths have been waived into adult court and a jury trial is scheduled to get underway this June.

Unfortunately, because the state of Wisconsin does not currently have capital punishment and because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 the death penalty for those who committed their crimes while under the age of 18 is cruel and unusual punishment, the harshest penalty these alleged offenders can receive is life in prison without the possibility of parole if they are found guilty.

This means that if one or both get thrown into the Wisconsin state penal system, we as taxpayers will have the luxury of paying the nearly $38,000 per year it costs to incarcerate each inmate in our prison system, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

This case, and many others like it, are very good reasons for this state to consider taking a hard look at reinstituting capital punishment in Wisconsin. If these two alleged killers are old enough to be waived into big-boy court due to the serious nature of the crimes committed, then they are old enough to pay the ultimate price if they are convicted.

I am old enough to remember many of the sadistic crimes that have taken place in Green Bay over the years. One of the worst occurred in 1983, when four wannabe tough-guy bikers brutalized, raped, and cut the throat of a beautiful young woman named Margaret Anderson and left her for dead in a manure pit on Lime Kiln Road across from Packerland Packing. Three of the four men convicted in her murder have since been paroled. The man who actually killed Anderson, Randolph Whiting, is due for another parole hearing later this year. Whiting should never be allowed to walk the streets a free man again. In fact, I have a problem with him breathing my air.

Three-year-old Taylor Farrah died after his adult male babysitter decided to play “a punching game” with him. Farrah died of numerous internal injuries and his killer was only given a lengthy prison sentence.

In 2007, Steven Avery was sentenced, along with his nephew Brendan Dassey, to life in prison without parole for the sickening abduction, rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.

Currently, only 33 states in the United States have capital punishment, while 17 do not.

There are purely evil individuals walking our streets in this country committing unspeakable crimes, and they need to be removed from our society. Unfortunately, we live in a society where people seem to think the death penalty is too harsh for those criminals.

Just a few weeks ago in Ohio, 18-year-old convicted mass killer T.J. Lane defiantly wore a white t-shirt with “Killer” written on it into court for his sentencing hearing. He smirked at the victim’s families, made an obscene gesture and said, “—– all of you.”

Lane was 17 at the time he walked into a high school and opened fire with a handgun, killing three other teenagers. Because of his age at the time of the shootings, Lane could not be given the death penalty, even though Ohio has capital punishment on the books.

It’s time for Wisconsin to stop being so coddling towards convicted killers in our midst and stop forcing the costs of housing them on taxpayers. Wisconsin needs to give these people the ultimate punishment they so justly deserve for their crimes and reinstate the death penalty.

If a person is old enough to be waived into adult court for a murder, then that person is old enough to face the ultimate punishment.

And if I were to be the man throwing the switch or administering the lethal injection, I wouldn’t lose a single minute of sleep at night except to say a prayer for the victims and their families.