It is no secret that the American Civil Liberties Union
is opposed unconditionally to both the death penalty and any form of cruel and unusual punishment, though at times people must surely wonder if it is opposed to all forms of punishment per se
Its latest whine is on behalf of death row inmate Alfredo Prieto, in particular it says death row is not a Constitution-free zone. That is admirable; even a man under sentence of death is entitled to both due process and reasonable treatment, though the threshold for reasonable is obviously somewhat lower than one would expect for ordinary inmates, and a lot lower than for the rest of society. The ACLU's main gripe is that Prieto and other death row inmates in the State of Virginia are held in solitary confinement, a process that can last years and often lasts for decades.
The system is broken says the ACLU because of "Racial bias, junk science, underfunded public defense, and other serious breakdowns". Yeah, they were gonna play the race card at some point, yadda, yadda, yadda. So why is Mr Prieto on death row? According to the ACLU: "He became involved in gangs and violent crime, culminating ultimately in his conviction for rape, larceny and double murder in Virginia."
Wait a minute, that's it? He joined a gang so was inevitably drawn towards violent crime - which can mean anything; rape - not "date rape" but "rape-rape
" (as Whoopi Goldberg once said), and a double murder. All that because he joined a gang? Heck, he could have joined a gang and made people laugh
. But he's not all bad, because "during his eight-year incarceration, Prieto has been by all accounts a model prisoner".
Prison "reformers" love that phrase, but what does it mean? Simply that he hasn't murdered anyone in gaol or talked back to his guards. Prison life is regimented, and on death row there is not a lot of scope for breaking the rules. It would have been better if he had been a model citizen instead, or even a not particularly model citizen. There are lots of people out there you wouldn't take home to dinner but who by the same token wouldn't murder your wife or rape your daughter.
The ACLU does not go into any detail about Prieto's crimes but it takes only a tiny amount of research to uncover the full, sickening truth. As is not untypical of death row inmates, Prieto's case has been before the appellate courts more than once; his latest appeal, which was only last year, proffers the following findings of fact:
He was sentenced to death twice, for the murders of Rachael Raver and Warren Fulton III in a crime that has echoes of the notorious A6 murder
. In this appeal there are no fewer than 195 points of contention; the vast majority are entirely frivolous.
While the ACLU cannot really avoid mention of this vile double murder, what it does not mention are the other murders he committed, in other words, Prieto is a serial killer. His crimes include the murder in California of teenager Yvette Woodruff who was kidnapped and raped by Prieto and two other men. Some of America's street gangs have deservedly bad reputations, but how many gang members would kidnap, gang-rape and murder a 15 year old girl if offered the chance?
In May 1988, Prieto raped and murdered a young woman in Arlington, Virginia. Veronica Jefferson
was 24 years old. He is suspected of committing other murders. It is difficult to credit that even the ACLU would waste precious time, money and resources arguing that keeping Prieto in solitary confinement is detrimental to his mental health. No rational person could reasonably conclude there is anything remotely healthy about his diseased brain, and the sooner he is executed, the better.