Monday, May 20, 2013

Life or Death for Jodi Arias

Patty here…

Will she spend the rest of her life in prison or will she be sent to death row? Jodi Arias will soon learn her fate and so will we.

I came late to the Jodi Arias sideshow. For months I heard the name whispered breathlessly by trial watchers, but I was too distracted by life to investigate further. At some point, I asked a friend what all the fuss was about and was told that Arias’s eighteen days of testimony, outlining details of her sexploits was salacious. Pair that with the gruesomeness of the murder, and you had an intoxicating brew of “must see TV.”

As the trial neared its end, I finally watched an overview of the case. There is no disputing that Jodi Arias is a liar and a manipulator. She just isn’t very good at either. By her own admission, she’s also a killer. At that, she showed some talent.

 I listened to the questions posed to her by the jury and saw that they weren’t fooled by her transformation from femme fatale...

to dowdy defendent.

They also weren’t buying her self-defense argument. On May 8th, they found her guilty of murder in the first degree in the killing of her ex boyfriend Travis Alexander. She seemed unfazed when the verdict was read. Immediately afterward, she granted an interview with a reporter during which she said she preferred death to life in prison, that death was the ultimate freedom.

I do not for a moment believe that Jodi Arias wants to die. Her statement seems yet another ill-conceived attempt at manipulating the public and perhaps the jury. The woman should admit she suffers from a finesse deficiency and keep quiet.

The emotional pleas for death from Alexander’s family were difficult to watch. I tried, but failed, to imagine how I would feel under the same circumstances, listening for months to details of how a loved one died, wondering what pain he'd suffered. Their loss is simply unfathomable. However, I oppose the death penalty. Over the years I’ve gone back and forth on the issue but I now stand firmly in the “no” column for the following reasons:
  • Spending the remainder of her life locked in a small cell seems like “just” punishment for Jodi Arias, because the rest of her life is a very long time.

  • The staggering cost to California taxpayers to support a death row inmate is $175,000 per person versus $47, 421 per person for a regular inmate. Each year, California spends approximately $177 million on death row inmates. I assume the cost to Arizonans is much the same. To me, that money would be better spent on awarding scholarships to inner-city kids, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or any one of thousands of other worthy causes.
  • Sometimes juries get it wrong. No doubt, innocent people have been executed. A small percentage, perhaps, but even one person is too many. 
If Jodi Arias gets death, we will be hearing much more about her in the years ahead, as the time it takes for death sentence appeals to go through the courts can take up to twenty years.

“The length of time prisoners spend on death row in the United States before their executions has recently emerged as a topic of interest in the debate about the death penalty. The discussion increased around the execution of Michael Ross, a Connecticut inmate who had been on death row for 17 years, and has been spurred by the writings of two Supreme Court Justices who have urged the Court to consider this issue.
Death row inmates in the U.S. typically spend over a decade awaiting execution. Some prisoners have been on death row for well over 20 years. During this time, they are generally isolated from other prisoners, excluded from prison educational and employment programs, and sharply restricted in terms of visitation and exercise, spending as much as 23 hours a day alone in their cells. This raises the question of whether death row prisoners are receiving two distinct punishments: the death sentence itself, and the years of living in conditions tantamount to solitary confinement – a severe form of punishment that may be used only for very limited periods for general-population prisoners.
Moreover, unlike general-population prisoners, even in solitary confinement, death-row inmates live in a state of constant uncertainty over when they will be executed. For some death row inmates, this isolation and anxiety results in a sharp deterioration in their mental status.” 

In case you missed the trial, Lifetime has already completed a TV movie called “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret,” slated to air on June 23.

Your thoughts?


  1. After reading the book, KNOCK ON ANY DOOR by Willard Motley (book is out of print - copyright 1947) back when I was in college, I have been opposed to the death penalty. I didn't know about the current economic reasons, so thank you for the information.
    P.S. - just finished reading your book False Profits and enjoyed it very much.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings, Bonnie. This is such an emotional issue with unfathomable consequences. I'm going to look up Knock on Any Door, because now I'm intrigued.

    And thank you for your kind words about my book!

  3. To me being locked up in a cell for the rest of my life would be the worst. I think she said she wanted to die because she thinks that will get her life and that she can somehow get out of prison once she's in! Gram

  4. I agree with you, Gram. I can't imagine being locked in that small space for the next forty years. Torture. I also agree that she is manipulating to get life in prison, i.e., if I tell them what I want to happen, they won't give it to me; they'll give me what I really want instead. The jury isn't going to fall for that. Her problem is she underestimates the intelligence of the people judging her.

  5. Even accounting for the shrill pro-prosecution coverage of Nancy Grace and her cohorts at HLN, this was a horrific crime by a dangerous sociopath. I believe the death penalty is rarely deserved more than in this case.

  6. The Death Penalty has another cost, which is seldom mentioned. The thousands of innocent people who have pleaded guilty to manslaughter in order to avoid the possibility of the Death Penalty if they were to plead not guilty to murder and be found guilty.

  7. Paulie, I agree that Jodi Arias should never walk the streets again, but I couldn't be on the jury that sent her to her death.

    Robert, I hadn't thought of that but you're absolutely correct. These sorts of cases are periodically brought to light and it is extremely difficult to reverse course once those prison doors have slammed shut.