Brief thoughts, before I have to get back to work and finish That Darn Book. Today, by golly.
Emotionally, I'm all for the death penalty, especially when it comes to mass murderers and child-killers. At the time, I was willing to put Susan Smith in a car and push her in a lake to drown personally. Andrea Yates evokes the same emotion. But...
At the end of the day, I have to say no. My reasons are not particularly spiritual or high-flown, but they all come down to this: capital punishment isn't equitably meted out. It never has been, and it never will be. In contemporary America, your chances of being executed have much less to do with the crime you've committed than with a) your income , b) where you live and where your case is being tried c) who your victims were. To put it very simply, rich people don't get executed when they commit murder. Heck, rich people hardly ever go to trial when they commit murder.
To emphasize: I have no sympathy with killers whatsoever. I also think it's disingenous for Catholic death penalty opponents to pretend that the present opposition of the Pope to the death penalty isn't a bit of a departure from the bulk of Catholic tradition on the subject. But what we have to remember is this: aside from issues of justice for crimes (a sticky philosophical matter), the death penalty was a part of past society's for one essential reason: Most societies didn't have the means to protect themselves from dangerous criminals aside from killing them. We have those means. And we should use them.
In reflecting on this Andrea Yates case, I see how our discussion about what to do with her would be simplified by taking the death penalty out of the equation. It's obvious the woman should be locked up for the rest of her life, and have her mental illness treated so some day, the reality of what she did can settle into her consciousness and haunt her for the rest of her days.
Quick thoughts. Discuss amongst yourselves.