Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Seeing Justice Done

She was 16, pretty, with her whole life ahead of her... Until she encountered a killer at a bus stop.

He raped her, stuck pins in her, struck her in the face with a brick repeatedly and she eventually died from a fractured skull and asphyxiation.

Her killer taunted police with a letter at the time of the murder: "I won't strike again until next year at the same time... Set up your bait and try to catch me ... See ya next year."

Her name was Darlene and 25 years after the conviction of her killer her family still lives with the pain, a pain compounded by the fact that in this country life does not mean life.

In order to keep Darlene’s killer behind bars her family must face her killer and read a victim impact statement. And, even if they’re successful in their bid to keep him behind bars he’ll be able to apply for parole again in 2 years.

This is something Darlene’s family hopes to change. They have a petition online that people can sign to support keeping this killer behind bars… and it’s a step toward seeing the laws change in this country.

Please consider visiting the website and signing the petition. There are a lot of laws in this country that should change. Consecutive sentencing instead of concurrent, which was a big issue raised by the Bernardo/Homolka trial, and you don't have to be Canadian to sign the petition.

You’d think with all the news I read and all the criminal profiling and books and such that I might get desensitized, but this story in the news put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Signing a petition is such a small thing to do to show a little bit of a support for a family that’s had to endure the unthinkable.


Jersey Jack said...

I signed the petition to help prevent parole, but I wish I could sign one that went further. Cases like Dolly's bring out the worst in me. I cannot understand why this man should still be alive, a threat to others.

Sandra Ruttan said...

The great death penalty debate. Here everyone cites David Millgaard as a reason not to have it, but can life not mean life? In the US you commit a bunch of crimes and get 154 years - you're never coming out. Here, 25 is the maximum people really get unless you can get them declared a dangerous offender.

I mean, Karla Homolka's out and has a baby. That's just sickening.

jersey Jack said...

I cannot debate this subject rationally. I read Dolly's story and emotion grips me.

JamesO said...

I've always wondered what the point of a 'life' sentence was if it didn't mean dying (eventually) in jail. I've mixed feelings about death penalties, though. Sometimes it seems, for the most heinous of crimes, that society would be better served by the speedy execution of the criminal (certainly not the endless years some people spend on death row in the US).

But this opens up a whole other can of worms, in the form of the question what is prison for? Is it for punishment with an element of retribution? Or for rehabilitation? Or to keep dangerous individuals away from other people?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah, I understand Jack. There just isn't a move here for reinstating the death penalty, but I'd really like to see consecutive sentencing and 'life means life'.

James, I think it's mainly to keep dangerous people away from others. I mean, if your crimes are "lesser" you go to minimum security prisons. There was one near where I grew up. They had a baseball team and played in the town league. I was out at the prison several times, not much formality to it, when I was a kid, watching games. Those people are supposed to be getting 'reoriented' to society. But in overcrowding situations they shuffle people around, and put a guy in there who walked off the property (not hard to do) broke into a house, raped a woman and slit her throat.

Prisons should protect the public from people like that who've committed violent offenses in the past. Rehabilitation is a nice thought, but that comes second to protecting the public, IMO.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I have mixed feelings about death penalties and parole, though probably not the way many others do.

Yes, there's the argument on whether the person is innocent. Some of them are, and it's important to make sure those people aren't swept up in the system. Does the crime warrant death? Again, some of them don't. Same thing. And there's much to be said about prevention over enforcement, rehabilitation over punishment.

But let's assume that the person is guilty. That they did do the horrendous crimes for which they've been accused. When you kill them in prison, at least here in the states, it can take years before it's done. Tookie Williams, the self-professed creator of the Crips (questionable at best) was in prison for 26 years before they took him out. It takes too long, costs too much money and is, frankly, too humane.

Take this guy. What are your choices?

Gas the fucker and watch his skin turn blue and his eyes bug out. Laugh as you drop the cyanide into the acid at his feet. Cyanide poisoning is a horrible way to go and some people deserve it. You don't mourn the passing of a mad dog, or the elimination of smallpox.

Parole him. Let him out onto the streets. If you're going to do that, drop a note to the family and community where he's going to be staying. And include an unregistered gun, a full clip and some assurance that the police are going to be "occupied" for the next 24 hours.

Or keep him in a cage.

I wonder what it is that keeps us so civilized in the face of such horror. How does locking him up solve the problem? I realize I'm somewhat extreme in my views, but I'm always amazed that more of us don't track people like this down and simply remove them. If they're in the can they have the opportunity to influence others who go in and who will, inevitably, come out. If they're set free, they're a constant potential menace and a reminder to the family that the system that was set up to protect them and mete out justice has failed.

Kill them. Forget all that shit about "turning the other cheek" or "reducing yourself to their level". Unless you're raping and mutilating underage girls I don't think that drops you down anywhere near their level. Sometimes hard and unsavory decisions need to be made. Civilization does not mean being nice to everybody. It means protecting the herd, following rules. Sometimes the rules are flawed and the herd isn't protected.

Civilized is something we try to be in order to make us more noble, more enlightened. But there's a cost to enlightenment. Sometimes that cost is putting it all aside to handle the higher priority of keeping ourselves alive and safe.

Apparently, I've had too much coffee this morning. I'll stop now.

Trace said...

It's so horrible. I'm the same way, too. I've read so many profiling book and I get so upset reading stories like these.

The laws definitely have to change.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Ah, Stephen, this is part of the reason I have a real appreciation for Simon Kernick's Dennis Milne books. Yeah, it's "wrong" but boy, I can understand removing some scumbags.

But, um, your way of thinking will never catch on and gain popular consensus.

Trace, yeah, it is heartbreaking isn't it? My heart goes out to them.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

"But, um, your way of thinking will never catch on and gain popular consensus."

We don't need consensus, just a small cadre of skilled psychopaths.

Sandra Ruttan said...

With bigger guns. Don't forget if they can't persuade people they're right with reasoning they just need more firepower.

You know, you have the start of a book there, I'd say...

Eileen said...

Yeesh. What the heck is wrong with people? Don't even get me started on Karla- it makes my dinner come up

Anonymous said...

You're beginning to realize that human life is cheap.

Laurie said...

Sandra, thank you for blogging about this petition! I've put up a small post on my blog with the petition link in it. Obviously, I signed the petition too! Watching the YouTube video was sickening in itself. The only reason Dobson may not be declared a "dangerous offender" is that he's only been caught once. No doubt he's tortured his share of birds, cat, rabbits and whatever in his childhood! Thanks again for this public service.