The Tornoe Spin

In the Tornoe Spin this week Rob Tornoe takes on the death penalty.  When Robert Jackson was executed July 29th it once again touched off a debate on the death penalty.  Here’s Rob’s take:

Why Kill People Who Kill People to Show Killing is Wrong? “Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders.” – Albert CamusConvicted murderer Robert W. Jackson III was put to death late last week, nearly 20 years after he murdered a Hockessin woman with an axe in a botched robbery attempt. It was Delaware’s first execution since 2005, and brought to the forefront my feelings about capital punishment, and why I’m against it. Since 1973, 138 people have been exonerated and freed from death row, while 1,264 have been executed. Some were only freed because of extraordinary work by individuals outside the criminal justice system. That means for every nine inmates put to death, one was found innocent and freed. Chilling. Looking at the statistics, capital punishment is applied randomly at best and with discriminaton at worst. It is imposed disproportionately upon those whose victims are white, on offenders who are people of color, and on those who are themselves poor and uneducated. Back in 1996, Thomas Capano was convicted of killing 28-year-old Ann Marie Fahey, shoving her body into a cooler and dropping it out to sea. Was he given the death penalty? Initially he was, but due to a technicality (no doubt exploited by highly-paid lawyers) he was instead given life without parole, and currently resides at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Robert W. Jackson III was convicted of killing 47-year-old Elizabeth Girardi withan axe during a botched robbery case. He was only 18 at the time, and a drug addict, with the intention of robbing the house and selling items to pay for drugs. He also had an accomplice, Tony Lachette, who Jackson had maintained was actually the guilty party. Lachette testified against Jackson at trial, pleaded guilty to burglary and conspiracy and was released from prison in 1996.Which one “deserved” the death penalty more? The night of the execution, I was browsing Twitter and Delaware’s supposedly-robust and sophisticated network of users. Surprisingly, I saw more tweets about Governor Jack Markell catching an egg at the state fair than individuals weighing in on whether a man should be put to death.Those that were responding, both on Twitter and on the web, seemed to have a blood lust that made me cringe. “Just throw the switch already!” one user implored, while another thought it should be televised. “Make it pay-per-view and they won’t be on death row very long.” Despite all the vitriol and anger among people who never met Jackson, his execution didn’t bring Elizabeth Girardi back to life. It even cost taxpayers more money than if he were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In the end, it was yet another unnecessary death motivated more by revenge than justice. Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and publishes the humor magazine Punchline. Reach him at

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