Thursday, November 10, 2005

Make A Deal

The courts have overturned the conviction of Andrea Yates because a prosecution witness was shown to have lied under oath.

This gives the Texas legal system another chance to show that it understands that mental illness is a medical problem. From what we've learned from the media, can anyone really believe that Andrea Yates truly wanted to harm her children? She suffers from a mental illness that led her to methodically drown her children; a horrendous act that will haunt her forever.

What is the purpose of putting Andrea Yates in prison? To make sure she doesn't do this again? No. To remove a threat to society? No. To show others that killing their children will not be tolerated? No. To avenge the deaths of five children? I guess. The courts can insist that she receive treatment and counseling to insure that she is not a threat to herself or others, but putting her in jail serves no purpose. No punishment can be worse than the agony she faces every day as she relives her actions.

I believe at one time the outrage of the prosecutors led them to consider seeking the death penalty. They changed their minds. Was that because even they realized that an execution would probably be closer to euthanasia than punishment?

The law may need to be blind to everything except the facts, but there must be a way for compassion and understanding to temper cold logic and insure true justice. Texas prosecutors need to offer a deal that gives Andrea Yates help and not jail time.

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