Here’s an idea: Instead of letting Jared Loughner (the 23 year old who killed six people and wounded 13 including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a shooting spree in Tuscon) plea to life in prison, the government should have made Mr. Loughner stand trial.
Many people might think that this is a preposterous suggestion. Some might ask, “Why should Arizonians be forced to endure a difficult and potentially lengthy trial? Isn’t it better just to put this matter to rest as quickly as possible?” Others might attack the usefulness of a trial by pointing out “a trial is not going to bring those killed back from the dead.” Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for Arizona, John Leonardo gave these explanations, respectively, when asked to comment on Loughner’s plea deal. (http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/07/13163448-jared-loughner-pleads-guilty-to-tucson-shootings-avoids-death-penalty?lite)
Although a trial will not bring the dead back to their loved ones, it might help the victim’s families deal with the pain of this tragedy and bring restorative justice to the community. Even though our criminal justice system does not value it, there is a restorative power to letting a victim tell their story. Plea bargains, however, value efficiency and expediency over truth.
Without a trial, there is no record of what happened that day according to the victim. A plea bargain produces no story. Although we all know what basically happened that awful day in January of 2011, we don’t have an official public record of the story from the perspective of the surviving victims, and we should. Should we put a premium the type of justice in our criminal-justice system that focuses on punishing Loughner over a justice that seeks to heal victims’ wounds and have their stories head?