The death penalty for both Perry Smith and Dick Hickock was for the best. Having them dead meant peace to the public and justice for their crime. They have carried out other offenses in their time such as check fraud and theft. Though they were both wounded in accidents they were still sane enough to know they were in the wrong. As for the series of events that involved the Clutters, Hickock and Smith planned out the burglary and even added no witnesses. They are a dangerous and needed to be hung, especially since the only other choice is 15 years in prison with parole. Having them out and about will only fuel the community’s fear of not knowing if they could be the next to go.
No matter how it’s looked at, Hickock and Smith are a threat and a danger to the public. They did not just commit simple burglary and check frauds, but also perpetrated capital murder. At one point they planned to rob another victim, Mr. Bells, of his belongings and his life. If they can go and execute another citizen then there is proof that they will not do it again. This unpredictability will make it hard for pedestrians to live safely when Hickock and Smith are on the loose. There is probability of Hickock and Smith to commit another crime, or even another murder, and even possibly be able to get away with it. 15 years in prison will not completely change their way of thinking, there is a possibility that it will but it could also let them see where they messed up. The death penalty was necessary for Hickock and Smith because their mental state was competent enough to stand trial, they would most likely be tempted to escape, and they had a high chance of being rearrested.
Hickock and Smith were competent enough to be able to stand trial according to psychologist. Disregarding the fact that he said that there was a chance that Smith might be insane, at the time of the murder Smith seemed to be very conscious of what he was doing. He knew it was wrong to let Hickock rape Nancy Clutter and to kill the Clutters that were in the house at the time. Hickock, on the other hand, was the one that planned the robbery and the one that said to leave no witnesses. It was also his idea to rob and kill Mr. Bells before they got to their next destination. He knew exactly what he was going to do even before he stepped in to the Clutters’ house and he was even persistent when they could not find the safe that was said to be there. They showed signs of being sane from what was told and as Dwane West said that if they knew right from wrong then they had to be competent.
If Hickock and Smith were to have gotten the life sentence instead of the death penalty, once they get paroled then the police would have to keep a close eye on them. The reason for this is that there is high chance of criminal that is released from prison to get rearrested in a span of 3 years. There is a higher chance for those convicts to be rearrested in an extent of 5 years and Hickock and Smith are no different. After they were arrested the first time, they went on and kept on doing fraud checks, petty theft and then burglary which then led to capital murder. With this alone, it shows that letting Hickock and Smith be paroled would not be that should be done because it would put the public in danger again.
Many people lived in fear when Hickock and Smith were on the run, it also caused distrust between the citizens of Holcomb. If the so called life sentence was extended and used without parole then that would be the better choice but there is still the chance of them trying to escape. Smith tried to break out by attempting to have some random individuals help him, which of course failed in the end.
Consequently, there is no way to escape the punishment for capital murder unless they were wrongly accused, which they were not. All of the evidence is there, from the boot that made the footprint pattern to the murder weapon that was used to kill the Clutters. They got a fair trial and even if they didn’t, the outcome would most likely not be any different especially since the detectives had enough proof to sentence them to jail three times over. Hickock and Smith already knew that there would be no way to change their punishment once they got caught, Smith even went as far as to say that he was not going to apologize to the family. Smith knew that he could not change anything with an apology, the law is the law there is no way to overlook it for a couple of convicts. Even if it was morally wrong to hang them, the jury had the last word and once decided there was no going back. It all came down to the lives of two murders who killed for what seems to be no reason, or the health and safety of Holcomb’s community. There was only one way to protect the public from Hickock and Smith whilst still getting justice for the crime.
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