The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, August 03, 1995, Summer, Page 5, Image 5

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    Susan Smith too white to die
Imagine, if you will, that Susan
Smith wasn’t lying.
Suppose that a black man actually
did abduct her children. Further, sup
pose that he was then convicted of the
same crime that Smith was: two counts
of first degree murder. Is there any
body reading this column that believes
that he would have received anything
other than the death penalty?
Long before the Smith trial had
begun I predicted that Susan Smith,
regardless of whatever crime she may
be found guilty, was never going to be
sentenced to die in South Carolina’s
electric chair.
Because she was too pretty; she
was too female; and dare I say, she
was too white. And that, my friend, is
the problem with capital punishment
in America today.
Through the years I have been one
of the biggest defenders of the death
penalty. And while I acknowledged in
the past there may have appeared to be
a perceived imbalance in the way capi
tal punishment was applied, I always
argued that instead of scrapping the
system entirely, we should explore
more ways to ensure that everyone
who deserves it gets it.
Now I have changed my mind.
If ever a person deserved to be
strapped to a cold wooden chair and
electrocuted until dead, that person is
Susan Smith. That instead she only
received fifteen years in jail per dead
child indicates a serious, systemic
problem with the manner in which
capital punishment is distributed in
this countiy.
Anti make no mistake. Smith will
be paroled after serving only 30 years,
lest you forget that in this modem day
of revolving door justice you have to
demonstrate that you DON’T deserve
parole instead of proving that you DO.
Just as sympathy caused jurors to have
mercy on this poor, troubled soul by
not giving her the deserved punish
ment, so too will sympathy sanction
her release from incarceration at the
earliest opportunity.
Remember folks, had this been an
African-American man, little atten
tion would have been afforded his
troubled marriage or history of sexual
abuse. He would have received what
Thomas Eads
“Long before the Smith
trial had begun I
predicted that Susan
Smith, regardless of
whatever crime she may
be found guilty, was
never going to be
sentenced to die in
South Carolina’s electric
chair. ”
he rightly deserved according to the
current law of the land.
So how do we solve this discrep
A detailed design should be adopted
for the handing-down of a death pen
alty sentence. During the sentencing
phase of a trial, jurors should be pre
sented with this guideline and in
structed that any deviation should re
sult only from severe, specific and
proven mitigating circumstances. Al
leged sexual abuse, for example, would
not qualify as anexcuse to kill your kids,
nor would it act as a disqualification
from receiving capital punishment.
Without incorporating this type of
precept by which the death penalty is
utilized in an impartial manner, I sug
gest that we abolish it altogether.
Currently, the only thing the death
penalty seems to be successful at do
ing is costing great quantities of
money; causing a severe backlog of
cases at the appellate court level; cre
ating even more disharmony than is
already present among certain minor
ity groups; and perhaps most nefari
ously, promoting abuse (through the
seemingly infinite numbersof appeals)
by judges and others who disagree
with the law personally.
Though I concede that capital pun
ishment is very popular among the
general populace (some 80-percent of
Americans now favor the death pen
alty according to a recent CNN/Wall
Street Journal poll), I’m beginning to
wonder if the price for this kind of
justice isn’t too high.
It is evident that our criminal jus
tice system is overburdened and in
desperate need of a tune-up. But at a
time when more and more cell space is
needed to house increasingly violent
offenders, sorely needed money is
being depleted by costly, drawn-out
appellate procedures for death pen
alty cases.
American society needs the death
penalty if for no other reason than to
demonstrate that certain crimes will
absolutely, positively not be tolerated.
However, in the absence of a capital
punishment law that works, we at least
owe it to the victims to see that a
minimal amount of justice is done.
Justice was not done in the Susan
Smith case; anyone who thinks it was
i s fooling themsel ves. Collectively we
have disrespected our children once
again (I’ll spare you a reopening of the
abortion debate) by saying that
Michael and Alex’s lives were only
worth fifteen years of jail time each.
I do not buy the cockamamie no
tion that the worst punishment for
Smith is having to to live with her
crime; though that would be just fine
with me as long as she had to live with
it (behind bars) for a time commensu
rate with the life expectancy of her
kids. What she got, instead, was a
comparative slap on the wrist.
The jurors who returned the 30
year sentence for the drowning deaths
of Smith’s two children should be
ashamed of themselves. South Caro
lina legislators should be equally em
barrassed that a life sentence without
parole was not an option for the Smith
jury. And the rest of us, as Americans,
should hang our collective heads low
because of our seemingly innate in
ability to apply capital punishment
judiciously and without partiality.
Eads is a senior political science major and
a Dally Nebraskan columnist
Send your brief letters to:
Daily Nebraskan, 34
Nebraska Union, 1400 R St,
Lincoln, Neb. 68588. Or fax
to: (402) 472-1761. Letters
must be signed and include a
phone number for
Need for diversity
Dear Governor Nelson,
1 am writing to you in regards to
Patrick A. Campbell, one of the final
ists for the position of County Judge.
I am the Pastor of the All Nations
Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and I
am also a Public Service Officer with
the Lincoln Police Department. As a
Pastor and an activist in the Lincoln
community, I see a great need for
Lincoln and Lancaster County to elect
and appoint officials of color.
As you well know, Lincoln is a city
that is growing very quickly and be
coming more diverse. I believe that it
is important that Lincoln is inclusive
in its hiring practices to include repre
sentation from the rich diversity that
exists in this community.
I believe that by appointing Patrick
A. Campbell as a Lancaster County
Judge, it will certainly show that you
are aware of the needs of Lancaster
County and are willing to effectively
work on meeting the needs of our city
and county.
Please be certain that I am not
endorsing Mr. Campbell solely on the
basis of him being a person of color,
but equally important is the exem
plary credentials that he possesses. He
is well qualified for the position of
County Judge.
As a Public Service Officer, one of
my duties includes working as a court
officer in the Lancaster County Courts.
I have worked in the courts for the past
nine years, and I have personally ob
served the performance of many attor
neys, prosecutors and judges in the
I must say that Mr. Campbell has
proven to be among the top. He is
knowledgeable of the law, confident
and thorough in his handling of all
legal matters he encounters in the
Lincoln and Lancaster County
would greatly benefit from the ap
pointing of Patrick A. Campbell as a
County Judge in this community.
Thank you for your consideration in
this matter.
Edward C. Price, Pastor
50 Domestic Longnecks
^ ^ jj Friday Night
50% OFF Back Issue Comics
40% OFF Miniatures & T-Shirts
20% OFF Singles,
Games, Graphic Nov
els, Collector Comics,
Paperback books
Jfalktt Empires™ 2 for $1.00
Register to win Prizes! Type li Magic
Tournament & many more specials!
One day August 5th
233 N. 48th St Suite Q between Target & Super Saver
Kaplan prepares more students...
one student at a time.
Princeton Other Quickie If A PI All
Review Companies University RHrLHIl
(combined) Courses
Here's Why.
Kaplan teachers are dynamic, experienced and highly effective.
Using Kaplan’s unique, customized prep system, they’ll create
an individualized study plan that focuses on your needs.
Don’t risk your future with an inferior prep course.
At Kaplan, we’ll make sure you get a higher score.
Classes Starting in August
<22* <3255 KAPLAN
*1993 estimate