Wise & Brave

When I left my third grade classroom on June 15, 1990 at Salk Elementary School in Anaheim there was no way for my 9-year-old brain to predict or imagine that one of my classmates, Autumn Wallace, was about to be brutally and senselessly murdered.

Autumn parted ways with us at Chanticleer Road. Joshua, Jennifer and I walked north on Gilbert toward our apartment complex; Autumn walked east toward her home alone. An hour or two later Maria del Rosio “Rosie” Alfaro knocked on Autumn’s door. Rosie was a family friend, so Autumn let her in.

Rosie stabbed Autumn 57 times and stole $300 worth of property from the Wallace home. Autumn’s mom Linda found Autumn dead hours after that. It took a couple of years, but eventually Alfaro was the first woman in Orange County to be sentenced to death. Last Thursday I saw Autumn’s face on the front page of the Register with this article.

The article explains how it has been 15 years since the sentencing and the Wallace family is still waiting for the sentence to be meted out. When asked if she would attend Alfaro’s execution, Linda Wallace said that she is “not that much for [executions].”

I agree with Linda. I respect human life too much to support any policy of state-authorized killings. Executions are immoral. And don’t confuse my opposition to the death penalty with sympathy for Alfaro. I have no such feelings for her.

But capital punishment does not deter crime—it’s just uncivilized in theory and unfair in practice. Linda Wallace told the Register that “if [Alfaro] is put to death, then another mother loses her child. I know what it feels like to lose a child.”

Linda is both wise and brave.

  3 comments for “Wise & Brave

  1. July 9, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Actually, the purpose of punishment is to do more than to deter crime and one purpose of punishment is retribution – which is to punish the convicted criminal for infringing on the rights of the victim.

    In this case, the right of the victim to live a long life without being a murder victim AND the right of the victim’s mother to enjoy her child’s life – so that she would not have to know what it “feels like to lose a child.”

    Retribution through the death penalty is a just punishment in a murder case like Autumn’s. The crook should not be allowed to live in a just society like ours for what he did to this innocent person.

    On your point about deterence: punishment is meant to deter a crime in two ways – specific deterence and general deterence.

    Obviously, the murderer will be “specifically” deterred from committing another murder or any other criminal act by being put to death. This too, is a just use of capital punishment.

    General deterence means that others not involved in the crime will be deterred from committing a crime because of the punishment invoked.

    Here, the punishment is meant for others to consider before they commit a similar crime – like a cost/benefit analysis. From experience, those in jail for murder pay alot of attention to execution day because they all believe that they will not ever be put to death for their crimes and when an execution does occur, they pay alot of attention because the next time could be their time. Those on the street pay attention too and the crooks do think about capital punishment when they are out and about looking for their next target.

    So, Mike. We disagree about capital punishment, but we don’t disagree about the tragedy of the crime or what the victim may have contributed to our society had she been allowed to live her life by a cold hearted criminal. It’s too bad no one will ever know.

    And, don’t forget that this murderer is getting treated much more “fairly” and with more “civility” than he ever afforded his victim.

  2. demmother
    July 9, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    Great post Mike. Mrs. Wallace shows great compassion, even in this tragic situation. I think that is why I loved Tim Robbins’ ‘Dead Man Walking’; it looked at all sides of the issue.

    Personnaly, I have been ambivilent. I am opposed to capital punishment because I do not think we should diminish our own humanity by killing the killer (who may indeed deserve death). If I lost a loved one, I would certainly hope that I would be able to demonstrate the same level of compassion. I do not believe most of us are able to do so. In saying this, I do not wish to suggest that most of us are lousy human beings.

    I know others who have lost a loved one to murder who feel the need for some sort of retribution/justice for the person they lost. I cannot judge these individuals as unfeeling or ‘death lovers’; they are human beings coping as best as they can. These individuals also deserve our comapssion. At this time, a majority of Californians support these victims and their wishes for justice. I think we are still searching for the right balance.

  3. Mark
    July 10, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I have been writing to Rosie the past several weeks. She is “helping” me in writtng a script called “CODE PHOENIX.”

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