The more things change, the more they stay the same…

One of the very first pieces I ever wrote for Wizbang, one of my auditions for the guest-posting gig, was about a Massachusetts man named Joseph Druce. Mr. Druce is currently a guest of the Commonwealth, and will remain so for the rest of his life after being convicted of murder back in 1989.

That’s the rule in Massachusetts: the ultimate penalty the Commonwealth can inflict is to lock you up for life. If you are convicted of first-degree murder, you will be put in prison where you can’t hurt anyone else ever again.

Unless, of course, you manage to kill a fellow inmate or a guard. Which is exactly what Mr. Druce did.

Mr. Druce found himself sharing a wing with a convicted pedophile and former priest. He very carefully prepared and stalked former Father Geoghan, followed him into his cell, jammed the door shut, and strangled him to death. This morning’s Boston Herald has even more chilling details of the killing.

Mr. Druce has yet to go to trial, but I repeat my question at the time: why? There’s absolutely no good that can come from his trial.

If he’s convicted, he’ll be sentenced to life without parole. He’s already serving such a sentence, so it’ll make no difference. If he’s acquitted, he’ll go right back to prison anyway. Regardless of the outcome, he’ll spend the rest of his days behind bars.

And in the meantime, he gets a wonderful little diversion as he’s trotted off to pre-trial hearings, meetings, the actual trial itself… in essence, he’s won a bit of a vacation from his cell.

And that is one of the strongest arguments I can imagine for capital punishment. There is literally no incentive for someone already serving life without parole to NOT kill again, and plenty of incentive to do so.

And the next time someone like Mr. Druce chooses to take a little vacation from prison with some quality court time, they might not choose a pedophile priest to kill, but a guard or some other innocent.

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