Fairness in punishment

Now that the accused in the Arizona shooting a couple of weeks back is getting ready to be tried, is it just wishful thinking that in my lifetime, there is a chance that this 21 year old kid, who is obviously confused & partly convoluted in his head will ever get a second chance in his life and have the opportunity to walk on the streets as a free man?

No punishment will fit the crime especially in this case, mindless shooting due to ideological differences that left 6 dead including a 9 year old and a elected representative to congress who can barely breathe on her own. Nytimes and other mainstream media ran a profile of the defense attorney who has demonstrated capability to help these victims to skip the death row but then spend the rest of their life in one of the overflowing maximum security prisons filled with some of the most vicious criminals in the country.

Is it really a good thing? Is our society at a point right now to say that we even believe that such a person should ever be freed? Do we even have a plan to address the needs of such individuals and have a plan to rehabilitate them and make a sincere effort to solve whatever is the problem that made such a young fellow take such a drastic step?

All questions with no easy answers but if you look inside a democratic judicial system, especially American judicial system, it is setup to punish for sure but reform, it is not. Locking up all these criminals in solitary confinement and having penalties rack up quickly only means that there are tons of people out there who are facing 100 to 150yrs in prison. Is such a long prison sentence even a punishment? 150yrs?! How can a judgment be passed to say a crime committed takes 150yrs of punishment before its heinousness is abated?

And I guess there is an argument to be made about all the costs incurred to keep them in for such a long time safely including strict monitoring but I guess the question is more about humanity. When we as a society cannot forgive, should we then go the extra step and just crucify? Why the façade or reform?

Is the defense attorney appointed by the state really coming to his aid?

Update 01/21: Discussion on similar lines on nytimes – Link.

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