Tuesday, February 05, 2008

So many ways to be wicked

Thanks to Nonanon, I picked up Ron Franscell's harrowing Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town (note: the upcoming paperback edition will be called the Darkest Night.) The book is principally about the fallout of a brutal crime. Two petty criminals kidnapped two girls aged 11 and 18. They raped one and threw them both off a bridge. The surviving 18 year old was able to identify them and off they went to prison, missing the death penalty due to timing.

The book shows that nearly everyone touched by the crime was permanently damaged. Some were only slight, like the author's brother who lost part of his happy go luckiness, while others, like the victim and killers families, were shattered. The only ones who turned out fine were the killers. One thought prison was a pleasant place and the crueler leader of the two managed to work the system to his benefit.

Franscell is arguing for the death penalty in this book, and if anyone deserves it, people like these do. Even if you do not support the death penalty, the book raises a number of questions about criminal justice. Why as Franscell points out should the killer get medical treatment on the public dime while the victim must pay their way? What to do with people who like prison?

While not quite explicitly, Franscell calls for blood vengeance for the victims to help them cope. Again, you don't have to agree with this, but prison should be a place of torment for people such as these killers. How do that is more than a little tricky of course. The fact that these two are among the worst of the worst makes it hard of a generalized system to deal with them.

This is a very good book, but also a very sad one.


Brack said...

These clowns deserve the poena cullei, the penalty for parricide imposed by the Roman Republic, pursuant to which the condemned is tied in a sack with "a dog, a cock, a viper and an ape," then hucked into the Tiber.

Max Radin, "The Lex Pompeia and the Poena Cullei," Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 10, pp. 119-130(1920).

Tripp said...

Nice one. Although they have to chance to escape by biting the animals to death like Chuck Norris in Missing in Action.


Anonymous said...

Oh, the book was so sad, Tripp, wasn't it? I couldn't believe what that girl lived through.

For the opposite take on the death penalty, and only when you've recovered from this book, you should definitely try Jeanine Cummins's "A Rip in Heaven." Also an unbelievably tragic story, including a horrible twist where one of the victims was treated like the criminal, but a closing chapter on why Cummins (the cousin of the people she wrote about) does not support the death penalty. Very thoughtful.

Thanks also for the heads up on the changed title in paperback.

Tripp said...

Thanks Nonanon, I think I need some happy books in between as you say. I will be sure to check it out.

Tripp said...

Although my current book is about doomsday devices, so it isn't very happy either.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Tripp, sometimes that happens. I went right from "Nobodies," about modern slavery, to "Life Laid Bare," about the Rwandan genocide. Jeepers. I may need a good Jane Austen novel, stat.