Bruce Davis, a member of the Manson “family,” paroled After 40 Years in Prison

Bruce Davis, a member of the Manson “family,” paroled After 40 Years in PrisonDeath Penalty vs. Life Imprisonment

One of the United States’ most controversial issues has always been the death penalty for capital crimes.  The discussion crosses moral and political lines, often defined by one’s personal experience.  Adding to the debate are other factors such as the cost of incarcerating a person for decades, vs. eliminating them from the system.  Those against execution claim it is “cruel and unusual punishment”.

I admit that I have vacillated within my own mind over this.  There have been cases in my lifetime that have swayed me to believe that execution is a horrible punishment, and at other times when crimes were so hideous, I believed severe and expedient punishment was the answer.  Either opinion may have merit, may be right or wrong.  I am confident about one, simple fact.  The punishment imposed by the judicial system and a jury should stand.

The Parole Board of the State of California is considering granting parole to Bruce Davis, a member of the Manson “family”.  He was not convicted in the infamous Sharon Tate murders, but was found guilty of the killing of a musician and stunt man along with Charles Manson.  He was 30 at the time, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.  He is 70 today, and the California Department of Paroles is considering his release.

Manson prosecutors and relatives of the murdered victims oppose giving Davis his freedom.  Davis has continuously claimed that he only stood by while the victims were murdered.  He also claims that he is a ‘born again Christian’ now, and is sorry for any involvement in the crimes.

Taking a human life is the ultimate crime one human being can commit against another.  Our country is a violent, unforgiving country.  Dozens of people are murdered every day, whether by gun or other violent means.  Not all of those responsible for these hideous crimes are caught and punished.  Those who are, such as Davis, must suffer their sentence to its end, in his case, death in prison.

Religious zealots believe in forgiveness, at least until something horrendous happens to them or one of their own family.  The Manson group got their “kicks” by making others suffer and eventually die.  They are beyond forgiving.

The argument between life imprisonment and execution will continue, and maybe it should.  But when punishment is handed down by a court and jury, it should be fulfilled, that I am sure of.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express