The death penalty, when it truly fits

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Some evil deserves society's ultimate sanction.

WARNING TO READERS: We are preparing to beat a dead horse one more time, so longtime suscribers may feel free to skip the argument.

Jake Patterson admits it. He plotted to take a 13-year-old girl and followed through, abducting and holding her against her will, and terrorizing the child for months. During the act of abduction, Patterson killed the girl's parents in cold blood - shotgunning them and leaving behind a scene of stomach-churning horror.

Now the girl is free, but will she ever really get over it? If she does, it will be a miracle.

Meanwhile, Patterson - just 21 years old - sits in jail charged with these heinous crimes.

WE ARE NOT making light of the tried and treasured American legal principle that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Patterson deserves sound legal representation and a fair trial.

But if this man is convicted - if it is proven he did all that he is accused of doing - only one penalty seems appropriate.


Wisconsin legislators abolished capital punishment in the 1850s. Periodically, there have been attempts to reverse that decision. None have succeeded.

We do not believe the death penalty should be available in the vast majority of cases involving lethal violence. We do believe, though, there are rare instances in which a crime is so premeditated, so depraved, so evil that nothing less fits the circumstances for punishment. At such times, juries and judges should be able to consider the ultimate penalty.

MANY LEGISLATIVE REFORMS have been enacted over the past decade, but not this one.

It's time to take another look.

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