BTK Killer Dennis Rader (search) told his story Monday, and the shocking news out of all this — perhaps even more shocking than his matter-of-fact tales of killing people — is the fact he will not face the death penalty.
Dennis Rader is the reason there is a death penalty. And the fact that the people of Kansas let their death penalty lapse and languish after the Supreme Court declared virtually all death penalty statutes unconstitutional is one of the real tragedies here.
Rader will go straight to hell for what he did. You can find a description of what will happen to him in "Dante's Inferno" (search) — one of the deeper circles of hell, I believe. Dante was good at envisioning excruciating eternal punishments.
But the issue is why not now? Why does Rader have to wait until the end of his natural life? It should be now. He should not be breathing the same air as us.
What happened was that the Kansas death penalty was declared unconstitutional just before Rader's first murder and they didn't get around to putting a new one on the books until just after the last murder.
It still would have been a problem actually. The new law — passed in 1994 — was declared unconstitutional again in 2004.
In fact, in the painful irony department, the United States Supreme Court was announcing it would hear arguments on the Kansas death penalty law at about the same moment Monday that Rader was detailing his crimes.
But Rader is why every state should have a fully functional death penalty statute on the books at all times. It should have passed constitutional muster and if it fails, it should be repaired and put back on the books immediately. Otherwise, people like Rader go around killing people in his cold-blooded way and all we can do to him is give him 35 years of ham sandwiches until we clog his heart arteries or one of the other inmates sticks him with a shiv.
Oh, I know. A few of you out there are already screeching about how awful I am for saying these things.
You'll feel better if you roll back the TiVo and look at what Rader said. You death penalty opponents will have a pro-death moment after that.
That's My Word.
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