Thoughts on the James Holmes Case.

I believe race played a role not so much in the verdict as in the fact that Holmes made it to trial in the first place. Had his name been James Washington, Diego Hernandez, or Jafir bin-Hakeem al-Hadj, he would likely have died in a hail of police bullets in the movie theatre parking lot or been subjected to a staged “suicide” in jail.

I believe the crime was premeditated and well-planned by an intelligent young man whose early promise was stolen from him by mental illness, thus rendering him a social misfit.

I believe the crime was a ghastly, horrific massacre and that the blood of the victims cries out for justice.

I believe in severe punishment when it is called for, mercy and understanding when it is not. I believe in vengeance and retribution. And I believe that the death penalty should actually be expanded to include rapists, child molesters, and animal abusers. I have no sympathy for murderers.

I do not believe, but instead know personally what mental illness is like, though thankfully my mental illnesses do not seem to be as severe as those suffered by James Holmes. Like most people who didn’t watch every hour of the trial, I had my own opinions about Holnes and the case; I assumed his more outrĂ© behaviors (naked somersaults, feces smearing) might be the actions of a cunning psychopath trying to convince others he was insane. But I am convinced now that Holmes is seriously mentally ill.

Holmes will likely spend the rest of his life in a private cell, separated from the main body of the prison population. Since prisons aren’t known for the high-quality of their physical and mental health care, he will probably just be given medications and see a therapist on a regular basis. Speaking from experience (No, I’ve not been in prison) I can tell you that such bare-bones care is an inadequate way for dealing with serious mental illness.

If you watched those videos of Holmes confined in any of a number of spartan white cells, you will have noticed how bored Holmes was, and boredom is dangerous for an intelligent person. (Contrary to the belief of many, mental illness and intelligence are not mutually exclusive.) So if Holmes is not kept doped-up to a zombie-like state, then the boredom will likely exacerbate his conditions.

In a way, Holmes might have been better off getting the death penalty, as it would not only have satisfied the families of the victims and the public at large, it also would’ve put an end to the mental illnesses that spawned his terrible crimes and put Holmes out of his misery.

As it is, James Holmes will probably spend decades being tortured by his own demons. There is no punishment his captors could possibly inflict upon him more painful, more cruel, more violent than that which is daily conjured up for him by his own profoundly diseased brain.

We do well to remember that Man’s most skilled and sadistic torturer is himself.


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