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Mousaoui's fate is worse than death

Reader comment on item: Hugging Iraq's Leaders
in response to reader comment: Hugging terrorists

Submitted by Jason (United States), May 8, 2006 at 11:25

Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. There are things, even in this life, that are far worse. One of them is to be isolated from the world and forgotten. Mousaoui will suffer from both.

First, he will be completely isolated from the world. Given his statements, he is now and will forever be a threat of violence. As such, the US Department of Corrections will have the power to keep him cut off from almost all human contact. In fact, they can limit his outside visitors as well. The only person Mousaoui has a right to ever meet with is his attorney, and that is the only person DoC will allow him to see. Even those visits will be strictly limited. I know someone who went through this for a year in a Jordanian jail (his imprisonment on drug charges was legitimate). Even after ten years of freedom and psychological counseling, his mental health is still questionable. Mousaoui will be in great shape after ten or fifteen years of such treatment.

More important than isolation is that he will be forgotten. He will be dead, but there will never have been a funeral. There will be no grave to visit to mourn him. HE WILL HAVE BEEN DENIED HIS CHANCE AT MArTYRDOM! He will die as a sickly, decrepit, lonely old man. If he's lucky, he will die in the prison hospital. At least there will be an orderly or nurse present with him at the end. It still won't be a great consolation or comfort, because prison hospital staff are not like most other medical personnel. Working in a prison tends to make them hard, cold, and uncaring.

On a whole, I think that this loneliness is probably the worst part of a life term. In my youth, I got to see first-hand what it does to a person. Our church started a prison outreach program in Pennsylvania. One of the things our minister fought for was the right to conduct religious outreach to the lifers. Back in those days, lifers were excluded form all such programs.

I remember one specific individual whose story was particularly pitiful. At nineteen years old, he and his younger brother had been involved in an armed-robbery-gone-bad. The brother was killed by a security guard. This guy got life under Pennsylvania's draconian felony murder rule. When I met him, he was in his mid-70's. He had been in prison for over 55 years. No one in his family had ever visited him. They say that the day he was convicted, his entire family stood up in the courtroom and turned their backs on him (they were Amish). To say that he was mentally unstable was an understatement.

The state of Pennsylvania added its own special brand of cruelty on top of everything else this guy had been through. On seven different occassions (one heath attack and six suicide attempts), prison medical personnel fought tooth-and-nail to keep him alive. Why? It's all about control. Because in prison, you don't even get to die on your own terms. As one of the guards told me then: for a lifer, death is a release, not a punishment. In prison, even the sweet release of death will only come when God intervenes directly on your behalf.

This is what lies ahead for Mr. Mousaoui. The jury did the right thing. They denied him the glory of martrydom and the release of death, and sentenced him to hell on earth.


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