Well, there’s been a verdict in the Joseph Druce case, and it’s pretty much what I expected.
But first, a quick recap:
Druce, 40, is currently serving life without parole for a first-degree murder conviction. While in prison, he stalked and brutally beat to death another prisoner, one John Geoghan. Geoghan was a former Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing a boy in the pedophile priest scandal. Druce said that he had been sexually abused as a child, and felt it was his duty to kill pedophiles to avenge and/or protect children.
Druce was found guilty yesterday, and was automatically given a sentence of life without parole.
There’s a wonderful aphorism that I find eminently useful: a difference that makes no difference IS no difference.
Before he killed Geoghan, Druce was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. Now that he has been convicted, he’s still going to spend the rest of his life in prison. The sole real consequence of his trial was to give him a few weeks of getting out of that prison for a change of scenery. Oh, and the colossal waste of time, money, and other resources in putting Druce on trial. All in all, a tremendous act of judicial Onanism — and about as productive.
I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me the smartest thing to have done was to simply indict Druce for Geoghan’s murder, then toss the paperwork in the back of a drawer. if, by some unholy quirk, Druce’s original sentence were to be overturned or commuted, he could be tried for killing Geoghan. (Personally, I would have charged him for vandalism in jamming the cell door, and perhaps littering, but I have little truck for pedophiles — particularly those who do it under color of clergy.)
And I repeat my oft-stated thesis: the Druce case is a perfect argument for the death penalty. As the old song goes, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” In a state with no death penalty, those serving life without parole are literally free to do whatever they wish. This time, the person killed was a pedophile ex-priest — the type who, as they say in Texas, “needed killin’.” Next time, it could be a guard.