I prefer to avoid missing white girl sagas like Jon Benet Ramsey. To me, she’s dead, and nothing that happens subsequently is going to (1) bring her back to life, or (2) make people try harder than they already were to protect innocent life. There’s really nothing to be done.
Sure, the killer might be brought to justice as a result of some scorched earth investigation, or some poor sonofabitch who didn’t do it might be put on trial. But after 10 years, it’s time to move on to protecting others.
Yet there are still dozens consumed with this story.
Why it interests me now is to see the sociolo-legal drama that will unfold. The confession sounds as though it’s either fake, the product of torture, or, at the very least, been misreported.
We will see whether it is more important to society that someone be blamed and punished than if the actual perp is punished. If the DNA evidence matches, he’s probably the man, but if not, he’s probably just a sicko, obsessed with missing young girls, yet there will always be those who think he should get punished.
One of the conceits of modern society is that prison is to “rehabilitate” criminals, to deter their future conduct, and to punish the guilty. In other words, it’s a “justice” system, not a “revenge” system. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a system meant to contain vendetta and vigilantism.
Rehabilitiation presumes crime is a simple choice and not part of a deeper problem in a human; deterrance assumes rational calculation on the part of a criminal. I think both are fallacious, yet inspiring principles. Both fail to empirically explain criminal behavior and the kinds of results from the prison system.
Neither of course show any reduction in crime over the years, nor can they even reasonably be correlated to fluctuations in crime rates.
I don’t know what causes criminality, and neither does anyone else. It’s more complicated that some binary fallen state of man. It’s at least a complex genetic, social, environmental, and psychological melange.
Death penalty advocates love to claim that it deters people. Most murderes aren’t well planned or thought out. Public defender types bask in illusions of rehabilitation. True criminality, not just stealing for drugs, just isnt’ that simple.
The system is mostly effective at providing a channel for the non-victims to get their revenge with clean hands. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a human impulse that can’t be denied. But let’s call it what it is.
I hope I’m wrong, but something tells me the facts won’t matter about Karr. He’s Jon Benet’s killer because he says he is and we need to believe little girls’ murders don’t go unpunished.