People used to call him a saint; now, Jerry Sandusky faces a maximum sentence of 442 years in prison after a jury of seven women and five men found the former defensive coordinator of Penn State's storied football program guilty of 45 out of 48 counts of sexual assault, molesting 10 boys over the span of 15 years. The jury delivered the conviction on Friday night, while Sandusky stood motionless with his hands at his side. He was calmly led to the sheriff's car, where he will remain in solitary confinement until his sentencing in about three months.
But is a life-sentence enough punishment for Sandusky? Does this man, who farmed his own charity for at-risk youth to fulfill his insidious, sexual desires, deserve to live out the rest of his days? Does he deserve the death penalty?
The United States is one of the four most populous countries in the world that still uses capital punishment -- in addition to India, Indonesia, and the People's Republic of China -- but while the UN and Amnesty International seek to abolish the death penalty -- the EU already has -- it's still an option here in the U.S., and this man deserves some consideration.
The Death Penalty: In Case Of Emergency
The Death Penalty is traditionally reserved for the worst of the worst criminals, but it's usually only used on serial killers, murderers that torture their victims, and people who murder children. (You can see a list of all current Death Row inmates here.) Sandusky never murdered anyone -- and as far as we know, none of his victims hurt themselves in a significant way -- but these victims will be forever marked. One victim said he now has an extreme aversion to chest hair because of Sandusky's unwanted bear hugs.
Charlene Hall, who runs ProDeathPenalty.com, argues that the death penalty provides some finality for the victims and their advocates.
Jurors, who represent us, hear about horrific crimes and make tough but appropriate decisions, Hall said. With a yearly average of 15,000 murders, the fact that we are reaching 1,000 executions in only a little more than 30 years is proof that capital punishment has been reserved for the worst of the worst. The attention given to the execution of 1,000 murderers is repugnant, especially when the loudest voices think the death of a convicted murderer is a tragedy. Yet the deaths and suffering of countless victims is only an easily-ignored statistic.
Yet, this isn't a life for a life; again, Sandusky didn't kill anyone, and that's important in the eyes of the law. He did molest young children on more than 40 different occasions -- particularly in his house's basement and the Penn State locker rooms -- but none of them are dead. Some have nervous tics, and most are extremely embarrassed and ashamed by what happened, but life moves on for them. It won't for Sandusky.
A Life In Prison Vs. No Life At All
Jerry Sandusky had it made. A Penn State player at one point, he returned to his alma mater, only to achieve unprecedented success while working beneath the winningest coach in college football history, Joe Paterno. He even opened a charity for troubled children. It seemed Jerry Sandusky could do no wrong. But how wrong we were.
In less than a year, the fallout of the Sandusky scandal is still immense. The Penn State community continues to mourn for the victims, the players, and the coaches. The iconic Coach Paterno can no longer defend himself, and we'll never hear his side of the story, unfortunately. But here we are, arbitrating the kind of fate Sandusky truly deserves. Which is worse: A life in prison, or no life at all?
Sandusky deserves the worst fate we can give him, but the death penalty is not that option. Death would be a reprieve for Sandusky, whose life is over already. It would be best to let him live out the rest of his years in solitude, thinking about all of the awful things he did to those young boys. Sandusky is 68 years old, and he is not built for prison by any means. Sandusky will likely be kept in a cell by himself, since inmates don't take kindly to child molesters, but that's exactly what he deserves.
Death could provide some finality for these victims, but living out the rest of his days in prison, alone, is exactly what Sandusky deserves. Hopefully, we never hear from him again.