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Your Views: Justice system must deal harshly with violent criminals
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Maurice Clemmons received his just deserts for the cruel murder of four police officers. But those who aided him, the driver who drove the getaway vehicle, the family and friends who provided him with shelter, cell phones and cash, and particularly ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, who made it all possible by commuting his 95-year sentence in 2000, will probably never receive their just desserts.

Huckabee almost certainly won’t be indicted because of his political clout. The getaway driver likely will receive a light sentence and might even probation if the current lenient trend of our penal system continues.

The other abettors will likely get no more than a slap on the wrist, yet they all have to be hardened criminals to have condoned such a senseless and brutal slaughter. And if Clemmons had not been killed by an alert police officer, he would probably have been allowed to live to a ripe old age.

Our elected officials, judges and attorneys have forsaken and endangered their electorate in their quest of the mighty dollar or political advantage. Huckabee’s motive for allowing Clemmons’ release was likely for political endorsement. He stated that the murders were the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice systems in Arkansas and Washington state rather than shoulder the blame.

If we are to live without constant fear of being murdered by a neighbor, relative or some other disillusioned crackpot, then we must demand adoption of a harsher criminal justice system to deter such behavior. While I am definitely not religious, one thing in the Israelite writings I endorse is the concept of "an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth." A recent article I read enumerated the number of convicted murderers who are walking our streets and free to kill again.

A prime example of this is one with which I am all too familiar. A man shot three young women, killing two, severely wounding the third. A jury on which I served found him guilty and gave him the death penalty with no appeal. As far as I know, he has lived happily ever after with free room, board and medical care thanks to us taxpayers.

Law enforcement agencies could prevent some of this by instructing their officers, when attacked by armed assailants or if witnessing the killing of people, to complete the job on the spot since there is no question of guilt. This is what should have occurred at the Fort Hood massacre. Now they are questioning if the terrorist assailant is capable of standing trial.

Also recently, there was the case of the convicted murderer and sex criminal who complained of the trauma of being on death row and tried to hang himself, and later died of complications. Another case of just desserts, preventing a possible pardon and saving taxpayer money. We should expedite the execution of death row inmates, not to prevent mental anguish but shorten their time to live.

We voters must elect representatives who will enact harsher laws regarding the sentencing of murderers and other violent criminals, and who will put the welfare and safety of their constituents above their desire for personal gain and political advancement.

Jim Scharnagel
Gainesville

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