In 2003, former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze regretted his decree ending the death penalty in 1997, a move he feared contributed to a rise in crime. "Evidently, we shouldn't have abolished the most extreme form of punishment, the death penalty. Criminals used to fear execution, but this factor is gone now," he said. (Also in 2003, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reinstated the death penalty because of a dramatic rise in violent crime.)
Polls in 2002 reported that the British people -- as many as 68 percent -- support the death penalty for child murderers, even if their betters in the British Parliament and the EU do not.
The never-ending International Criminal Tribunal of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic reveals the insanity of outlawing the death penalty -- even for genocide. The strongman probably is safer in prison -- and mocking his critics during a circus-like trial -- than he would be free in his homeland. Also, the tribunal's insistence on issuing lesser sentences for lesser killings has prompted the court to issue sentences like 18 years for a key role in the murder of some 7,000 Muslim men.
The EU, be it noted, also doesn't believe in life sentences. Death penalty supporter Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, Calif., approved of the governator's response. Rushford noted that the death penalty is a punishment for which approval goes up when people look at the offender. Like Williams.
Rushford believes Williams "traded his humanity" when he took his first innocent life. "All the benefits of being a human being, he traded that away by taking an innocent life."
The Graz incident shows a side of Europe that leaves many of us American rubes cold. Left-wing Austrians -- and Americans -- were quick to condemn the California death penalty and Schwarzenegger as barbaric, even as they embraced a man who killed four innocent people. To condemn an execution while canonizing a killer -- that's just too civilized.
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