Should Massachusetts reinstate the death penalty for those who murder police officers?
The recent fatal shooting of Yarmouth Police Officer Sean Gannon unfortunately reminds us once again that our state needs to re-institute the option of the death penalty.
Capital punishment promotes justice for the most horrific crimes committed in our society. I strongly believe the punishment should be used on a case-by-case basis when it fits the crime and has a chance to deter future offenders. As a starting point, we should adopt legislation to allow the death penalty for those who kill law enforcement officers.
In the case of Officer Gannon, Tom Latanowich, who has been charged with murder, is a career criminal with over 100 charges on his record. Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. also was allegedly murdered by a career criminal, Jorge Zambrano, who police said shot him in the back during a routine traffic stop in 2016.
These two police officers who were committed to serving and protecting our communities were murdered in cold blood.
Furthermore, murderers serving life without parole have no incentive for rehabilitation and often no respect for the lives of correction officers. If those inmates kill a guard or anyone else, the death penalty is the appropriate punishment.
Those who oppose the death penalty suggest that an innocent person could be wrongfully convicted. In both the case of Latanonwich and Zambrano, there appears to be little question about who committed the crime. However, there are many safeguards when it comes to handing out this sentence. There are separate trials for the crime and the punishment.
The most important reason to implement the death penalty is to save lives. A 2004 study by Paul Zimmerman, a Federal Communication Commission economist, found that each execution from 1978 to 1997 deterred an average of 14 murders annually. Another study done at Emory University in 2003 found each execution deterred an average of 18 murders. People fear death. A life sentence does not carry that same fear factor.
The men and women who put their lives on the line every day deserve protection. Bringing back the death penalty for those who take their lives is one way to provide that.