Saturday, October 22, 2016

Murder as a Luxury.

(From Puck , November 11, 1879)

Murder as a Luxury.
 The Expense of Trying Every Murderer Ever so Many Times.
The mania for murder seems to spread like an epidemic in tropics. It attacks all classes, both sexes, and even children are etting it hard. Now, murder is very disagreeable to the victim, and to the perpetrator, also when he is solemnly marched on to be hanged; yet murder seems to be one of the fashionable excitements of the day. It is a luxury, and must be paid for. Our 4-in-hand, and Polo clubs pay for their little fun; our yachtsmen draw upon their own back accounts for the expenses of their skimmers of the sea; Mr. Lorillard pockets his winnings and pays his losses at horse racing without troubling the public about it; then why should A. B., because he wants to indulge in the luxury of letting out the life blood of C. D., call upon the country in which he does the deed to pay the expenses of trying him therefore?

Now-a-days it takes generally two or three trials to convict, acquit or half acquit a party charged with murder. All the first-class chemists, experts in poisons, and microscopists, are brought, with their expensive apparatus, into court to utterly flabbergast a most miserable jury. Detectives, at great expense, are employed for months; the local prosecutor engages additional counsel who are granted an “allowance” of the most liberal kind by the court; witnesses are summoned form all sorts of distance, and the clerk is kept busy in reckoning up mileages, attendance expenses, and everything the cumbrous machinery of the law can grind out of the pockets of the poor tax-payers. The bill against the county in which the case is tried becomes enormous.

And what is the result?

Generally a miscarriage of justice, in a disagreement of the jury; or the ordering of a new trial from some legal mistake that neither lawyer, judges, nor the press discovered until the trial was over and all the expenses incurred.

Look at it! Greenfield was tried three times; Bishop and Kate Cobb twice; Buchholtz is going to have a second trial; Hayden is now undergoing a second trial; Saratoga county in this state, would doubtless give Mr. Jessie Billings another trial only that taxpayers growl at the enormous expense of the previous one; Cove Bennett and Mrs. Smith are soon to undergo a second trial. In some counties the expense of bringing murderers to justice is a heavier burden on the taxpayers than ll the expense of making and repairing roads, caring for the county buildings, etc. Now, all this is wrong. Either people must stop committimg murder or, if the will murder, they should guarantee the county against pecuniary loss.

If John Kelly is elected governor, as he now says he expects to be, we will call upon him to tackle this subject in his inaugural message. Let him demand the passage of a law that no man, woman or child in this noble old state shall be allowed to commit murder unless he, she or it first covers into the treasury money sufficient to pay the cost of his, her or its trial.

"Murder as a Luxury." Puck  11 Nov 1879.


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