Friday, March 16, 2007

20 to 30

Today's local Minnesota news included a story about the shooting death of Michael Zebuhr (age 25), a PhD student in bioengineering at Clemson University who was visiting his sister at the University of Minnesota while on Spring Break in 2006.

Mr. Zebuhr was killed in the "Uptown" area of Minneapolis, Minnesota by Billy Ray Deshawn Johnson (age 18) who pleaded guilty to the crime. Yesterday Mr. Johnson was sentenced to 30 years in prison but could be released after only 20 years for this heinous crime. The presiding judge in this case noted that Johnson's prison sentence was, "........near the very top of the sentencing guidelines..........." Note for a future posting -- how our "sentencing guidelines" determined and who the hell is doing it???!!

Wow, only 20 years for killing a man?!!? So with "good behaviour" Johnson could end up leaving prison at the ripe old age of 38 years old thus giving him probably 50 more years of living to do assuming he isn't killed in a prison fight.

Fifty years of living? Sad isn't it that Zebuhr, a promising bioengineer -- a profession that has the potential to improve our quality of life is struck down at the tender age of 25 while someone like Johnson - a tumor on our society - will probably live to the age of 38 at the expense of taxpayers? No, I am not advocating the death penalty here since I oppose it because government simply makes too many mistakes that affect our lives so I don't want to give them the ultimate power over life or death.

I will never understand a murder like this one but one central question I am left with is -- hey Mr. Johnson what do you plan to do with your potential 50 years of freedom once you leave prison? How about creating a scholarship fund that you pay the majority of whatever salary you make when you leave prison to honor the memory of Michael Zebuhr?

It is the least you can do to compensate for the hurt you caused his family and the burden you placed on taxpayers.

Think it over for the next 20 to 30 years,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In discussing this issue of 'how many years punishment is enough for the crime of murder,' you provoke root philosophical questions of value of one life or another and duty of man to society...since the days of Plato and Aristotle that has not been solved yet.

United States is based on a democratic system and judges tend to rule in a way that is representative of the views of the public in their respective regions. Minnesota is a liberal state (bleeding heart liberals) and doles out lighter sentences for murder compared to some conservative states such as Texas (ignorant backwards simpletons).

While your suggestion, that the convicted killer Mr. Johnson be forced to pay up his salary of the remaining years of his life into a scholarship fund memorializing the victim Michael Zebur, is a very creative and constructive one, it displays that you do not take an absolute radical position of "an eye-for-an-eye" punishment. And, that you are conciliatory and constructive. But in reality that solution is very difficult to enforce. Look at how many deadbeat teenage dads are running around US, not caring for their own children.

I personally however hold dual views on this. You may either take life for life and execute the killer (discouraging many others), or you may do a no stone unturned, no expense too much, no effort too travail, complete and total rehabilitation for the perpetrator that must be guaranteed to work. It cannot and must not fail or otherwise the system has it now is failing...