Monday, March 11, 2002

THE PHONE CALL
People keep pointing to the phone call Andrea Yates made to the police after drowning her children as evidence of her sanity, making her more deserving of a death sentence.

I'm not an expert on sanity and insanity or Texas law, so I can't really say with authority whether this means she should be found insane. But I do think that if she is found sane, the phone call should be a mitigating factor that would lead against putting her to death. It seems to me that it would be good for society to provide some incentive for murderers to confess to their crimes and turn themselves in. Yates didn't lead the authorities on a wild goose chase looking for the killers, which would have used considereable resources. Compare this to someone like Susan Smith, who tried to play off people's racism to avoid responsibility. I'm not saying this makes it OK that Yates killed her kids, but I do think it's something that should be considered during the penalty phase.

I should probably point out here that I oppose the death penalty as strongly as I oppose anything. But I think my argument above holds even if one assumes the presence of the death penalty.
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