November 11, 2015
How many vets, after serving to secure liberty, are now serving LWOP sentences?
The question in the title of this post, in addition to raising an important empirical question on a day devoted to honoring our veterans, seeks to highlight my view that even more disconcerting than the number of veterans who many be on death row (as dicusses in this new DPIC report) is the surely much larger number of vets who are serving a sentence ensuring they will never experience true freedom again after they served to protect that very freedom.
The DPIC report indicates that around 300 veterans may be on death row, which would make vets a little less than 10% of the condemned population. Using that rough percentage and knowing that at least 100,000 persons (and likely many more) are serving LWOP sentences in the United States, it think it would be reasonable to guess that as many as 10,000 veterans might be serving the ultimate American liberty-depriving sentence after having devoted part of their life to protecting American liberties.
November 11, 2015 at 09:00 AM | Permalink
Why exactly is it disconcerting? What it is about prior military service that should exempt veterans from the penalty set by statute? Nearly all of those LWOP sentences will be for first degree murder. Is there some reason why a veteran should be treated differently than every other defendant who possibly had a failed home, traumatic upbringing, sexual or drug abuse as factors in their crimes?
Most veterans do not see combat, so any assumptions that their service was a factor in their crimes may be tenuous. Regardless, the fact is that PTSD is brought up in non combat veterans criminal cases all the time, so the idea that it is unique to veterans is flawed - although Professor Berman may not be saying this to begin with.
Today is Veteran's Day, and we should recognize those who have chosen to serve. LWOP is not part of that recognition, it is a punishment for killing with special circumstances that often can warrant the death penalty. LWOP for someone who served should not be disconcerting, except for those who question LWOP generally and are using this day as as way to chip away at it.
Posted by: David | Nov 11, 2015 11:42:00 AM
"Is there some reason why a veteran should be treated differently than every other defendant who possibly had a failed home, traumatic upbringing, sexual or drug abuse as factors in their crimes?"
Yes, since it is somewhat more likely for veterans -- taking everything into consideration -- to have certain issues that mitigate such as trauma from combat and other service related matters. Likewise, they provided -- now a voluntary thing -- a particular service to society and warrant some degree of special treatment. This doesn't mean they should "be exempt" and no that was not said at all. They aren't the only people whose past warrants them to be taken into consideration more, including regarding the service hey provided to society. But, they are one group that deserves some degree of extra respect.
Posted by: Joe | Nov 11, 2015 1:18:22 PM
I know most will assume that those serving sentences of life without parole have murdered someone, but that assumption is incorrect.
Billy Dekle is a nonviolent marijuana offender serving a sentence of life without parole.
Kenny Kubinski is a nonviolent first time drug offender serving a sentence of life without parole.
Antonio Bascaro is a first time nonviolent marijuana offender serving a defacto life sentence. He has been in prison for 35 years. He is 80 years old.
Famm has a page with links where you can see stories of imprisoned veterans.
Posted by: beth | Nov 11, 2015 2:53:09 PM
"Likewise, they provided -- now a voluntary thing -- a particular service to society and warrant some degree of special treatment."
And this is where Joe goes off the rails. The problem here is the voluntarism of the service--why should someone get special treatment for something they volunteered to do? If this had been the case of the draft--where people were forced to go whether they liked it or not--I would be far more sympathetic. But as it stands such proposals are nothing but an egregious bribe. We mythologize it as a voluntary service driven by love of country but the more special treatments we pile on the more it begins not to look like love but a mercenary endeavor.
Further, I think that much of what is going on here is liberal guilt. People such as Joe couldn't stop the war so their logic is that maybe they can stop some of the damage that the war did. To hell with that! The country voted for this whirl, they should reap the whirlwind. Since we refused to learn from Rome and her ruinous wars, maybe a little bit of the personal ruin will teach the lesson history could not.
Posted by: Daniel | Nov 11, 2015 6:42:29 PM
"why should someone get special treatment for something they volunteered to do"
I simply don't find this sensible as a general statement. The average person regularly gives "special" treatment to those who do things that require serious effort, here maybe lethal effort, when they don't have to do it.
An example, but one, that doesn't even require much effort. A friend, e.g., volunteers to help move. As compared to the commitment to go to Iraq a trivial thing. But, it is seen as a basic matter of human nature that such volunteering warrants something in return. This is not seen as an "egregious" bribe to most people. YMMV.
I reckon merely giving points to vets in civil service jobs -- after all they weren't FORCED to go -- is a problem too. Reference is made to "liberal" guilt, which is almost amusing given the level of disrespect here if anything (given it doesn't only apply to punishments) is more likely to bother conservatives. The "liberal" guilt part is duly noted in reference to stopping a war, but your disdain again is broad.
As to "reap the whirlwind," some sort of just desserts as to society doesn't warrant ignoring that vets -- here we are directly talking about war as compared to your comment that many vets did not go to war -- have special qualities regarding trauma etc. than any Joe Smoe (again it is not merely a get out of jail free cared -- it is A factor to factor in). Using vets as weapons against the military industrial complex here sounds like a form of draft (they didn't sign up for that) fact as well as some sort of hobbyhorse on your part.
Posted by: Joe | Nov 11, 2015 7:02:12 PM
You and I have fundamentally different worldviews. In your worldview when a cop refers an accident victim to a specific body shop and the owner gives him some money in return that is just a "tip". When one lawyer referrers a major client to another lawyer and gets an expensive bottle of wine at Christmas from that same lawyer that is just "a cool gift, how nice of him!" In your worldview this is just the social grease that makes business work, it's all done in good cheer and genial bonhomie. As for me, I simply cannot imagine living in a world where every time I did something I anticipated something in return. That would be my definition of hell.
"it is seen as a basic matter of human nature that such volunteering warrants something in return."
Maybe so. Maybe that is human nature. But morals and decency are about the elevation of man above his base human nature. As Jesus said, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. That's the definition of sacrifice. All quid pro quos are corruptive if they go unacknowledged or passed off as something else.
FWIW I don't actually have a problem giving veterans special treatment. Lots of favored groups in our society get special treatment. What I can't stand is all the moral mayo that's poured over the rotting road kill to hide its stink. That is what I disdain.
Posted by: Daniel | Nov 11, 2015 8:13:39 PM
"...serving a sentence ensuring they will never experience true freedom again after they served to protect that very freedom."
"... it would be reasonable to guess that as many as 10,000 veterans might be serving the ultimate American liberty-depriving sentence after having devoted part of their life to protecting American liberties."
What kind of bald faced lying is that? They did not lose their freedom, nor are they serving life sentences after defending our freedom.
They are serving their sentences because they viciously, and unlawfully killed an innocent person.
The David Duke web site has more facts and has less in your face lying propaganda than this anti-victim hate group.
Joe, of course, advocates for vicious, trained to kill murderers.
Leona Helmsley claimed $8 million in work on her private residence as work on her business properties. After she refused to pay her contractors, and bragged that only the little people pay taxes, they reported her. The IRS offered her a deal. She told them to get lost. The prosecutor offered her a plea bargain. Again, she refused it. During her trial, she offered this mitigating factor: over the years, she had paid $400 million in taxes to the IRS. Shouldn't that get her a consideration of her $4 million in evasion? The jury replied, no, go to prison.
If you are disturbing the peace, or making noise after dark, but your are an upstanding citizen, perhaps, you should get consideration. Past a certain amount of harm, you do not get consideration. And indeed, if Leona Helmsley or a city Mayor had murdered someone, the Judge would say, you deserve a harsher sentence because of your privileged position.
Joe. Let's have your closing argument defense of Leona Helmsley who paid $400 million in taxes prior to her tax evasion of a mere $4 million. If you do not want to defend her, tell us how her argument differs from that about the veterans' prior service.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 11, 2015 8:57:57 PM
While in prison, Leona Helmsley paid 50 cents to other female inmates to make her bed. Upon leaving prison, she stiffed them.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 11, 2015 8:59:23 PM
Can I sign up for the vegans and Native Americans who hate on Thanksgiving Day post? Might not have sentencing angle, I guess. Perhaps, something against good will to all on Christmas. Aren't their workhouses?
Posted by: Joe | Nov 12, 2015 12:54:54 PM
Joe. Timothy McVeigh. Veteran. Thank for your service in the Persian Gulf War, Timothy McVeigh.
Killed 168 innocent people, including little kids in a daycare, as the building fell on their little heads. Some lived for a long time in agony before dying of crush injuries. Defend him against the death penalty.
The lawyer is made really stupid by his criminal cult indoctrination. The profession is run by a hierarchy of arch criminals and villains, who run a tighter ship than the KGB.
What is your frickin' excuse?
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 14, 2015 10:35:13 PM