Fuquay-Varina police have charged Alonzo Quentin Powell, 21, of 300-H Ashewyck Commons Court with one felony count each for the rape of a child, indecent liberties with a child, sex offense - parental role and first degree sex offense, according to warrants filed Saturday at the Wake County Magistrate's Office.This is the kind of crime that shakes my opposition to the death penalty to the core.
Investigators think the offenses began Oct. 15 through Nov. 5, court records show.
Police stated in the arrest warrants that Powell, had 'assumed the the position of parent in the home' where the child resided.
People kill each other all the time whether by accident, in a fit of rage, through negligence to duty, etc. and it is not hard for me to stand by the principle that killing is wrong, even when it comes to punishing to those convicted of those crimes. It's more difficult, for me, with torturers and rapists though to hold that belief. What happens in my mind is: I'm saying, "it's wrong to kill people," and I can still recognize the humanity of the people in the first group of examples, but in the case of people who torture or rape their victims, I don't.
In order to perform those acts, I think something has to be so fundamentally broken in the construction of that perpetrator's consciousness that, although he or she may have opposable thumbs, use tools, use language, have human parents, and be human by every definition available, they are so lacking in conscience (monstrous by birth, by having their development retarded by external factors, or some combination of both) that they never achieved actual humanity. I read a lot of Heinlein as a kid and some of that has stuck with me, especially his line (I don't even remember what book it was from offhand) in support of the death penalty where he argued that it is reasonable to apply it because there are so crimes so heinous that the perpetrator, even if he or she could be rehabilitated to the extent they understand the nature of the crime in such a way it would not be possible for them to commit another like it, would in the course of coming to understand that accountability, feel such guilt for what they had done that they couldn't live with themselves. Rehabilitation would, effectively, be bringing the guilty party to a state where they would have to commit suicide; so, the exercise would be pointless. (See the comments of convicted murderer Stephen Hayes, for example.) That argument, I have to admit, makes sense to me to this day.
Shaken (every day by news of horrific crimes committed), I continue to affirm it's wrong to kill. Partly because I don't think we can ever know whether there was some factor beyond that individual's control that rendered them monstrous, or whether it might be possible (while still holding them accountable for their crime and continuing to incarcerate them) to fix whatever was wrong with them that retarded their development. Also, I believe we can't trust the state to adjudicate all cases such that they can deliver perfect justice, so we can't afford to let them execute anyone due to the unacceptable risk of executing even one innocent -- which has almost certainly happened, probably several times. (When someone is convicted and imprisoned unjustly, it is at least still possible to set them free and partially, if not ever fully, compensate them for the injustice. Obviously, we lose that ability once we execute them.)
I'm writing quickly and will probably need to come back to revise for clarity. My main point is: even when I am convinced in an individual case that an offender deserves to die, I can't abide the idea of execution. It amazes me that so many people are at once so distrusting of the government (in all its branches) yet so eager for the same state they don't trust to collect taxes to build roads and schools, to carry out the ultimate punishment. What, besides bloodlust, accounts for that?