Debate will always rage about the purpose of imprisonment and the reasonable length for prison sentences. Some people think prison exists solely to punish people, while others believe that we need to use prisons to rehabilitate people, and stop being so gosh darn punitive. I tend to fall in a mushy middle that is tied to the nature of the crime. I think small time criminals should be given chances to improve themselves in prison, through works, education and good behavior, and that those factors should lead to their getting out of prison earlier. If some uneducated yahoo who is caught with too much pot or cocaine spends his time in prison getting his G.E.D., staying out of trouble, and doing community volunteer work (San Quentin, for example, has a dog training program for rescue dogs), it’s a waste of taxpayer money to keep him in prison for the long haul.
I feel quite differently about murder — not manslaughter or some other gradation of killing (such as varying degrees of self-defense), but cold-blooded murder. The taking of a life, an act we all know to be heinous regardless of our economic situation or upbringing, is not only morally wrong, it rocks the core stability of our society if cold-blooded murder is given any type of a pass. I’m willing to admit that someone who killed at 20 and is now 50, having spent the bulk of his life in prison, might have been sufficiently punished — although it does depend on the motive, intent, purpose and manner of the crime. Again, human discretion matters in considering these things.
The one thing I know is that a woman who for political reasons cold-bloodedly killed two young American soldiers, and is almost certainly responsible for the deaths of many others, is getting a free pass as she is released after eight years because she is “rehabilitated”:
Eva Haule spent her last hours as a free woman in the ice cream café “Dolomiti” in Rüsselsheim — a town near Frankfurt. She was meeting with two supporters of the Red Army Faktion, the home-grown terror group to which she belonged. The trio attracted the attention of a person seated at a nearby table, who recognized them in police posters. Every time the waitress came to the table, the three would hurriedly gather together their papers.
The man called the police. Moments later, when two officers approached Haule’s table with guns drawn, she chose not to pull her own pistol. On August 2, 1986 Eva Haule disappeared behind bars and was sentenced to life in prison eight years later.
Now, a Frankfurt court has announced that the ex-terrorist — convicted of killing two Americans in a 1985 air base bombing — will be released on parole. The court ruled that the former RAF member no longer presented a threat to society. With her release, only two former members of the RAF — which disbanded in 1998 — will remain behind bars: Haule’s former comrade-in-arms Birgit Hogefeld and Christian Klar, arrested in 1982.
Haule’s biography makes clear that she was a merciless, dedicated killer. There’s no excuse here about poverty or ignorance. She was college educated with, of all things, a focus on social work. Here’s the kind of stuff Haule and her buddies did, and for which Haule was convicted:
Exactly one week after the Paris attack [shooting a director in the French Defense Ministry], a woman rang Ernst Zimmerman’s doorbell in Gauting, near Munich. She claimed to be the mail carrier and that she needed a signature. When Zimmerman — a manager at a company which built turbines for fighter planes and engines for tanks — opened the door, he was confronted by a man wielding an automatic weapon. The duo tied up Zimmerman and his wife before taking him into the bedroom. Once there, he was executed with a shot through his head. The murder has gone unsolved.
The third generation of the RAF had found its modus operendi — a style of killing it stayed true to until the 1991 murder of Detlev Karsten Rohwedder, responsible for selling off former East German state property following 1990 reunification. It was also clear to the investigators that the new RAF was extremely professional. Although Zimmerman’s murderer wore no gloves, there were no fingerprints left behind.
It was then that the RAF carried out an attack that cut the already slender ties to Germany’s leftist-radical scene once and for all. A woman in the Wiesbaden club “Western Saloon” began flirting with 20-year-old US soldier Edward Pimental. The GI left the disco with her — and was found dead the next morning in a nearby forest.
Just why Pimental had to die quickly became apparent. On Aug. 8, 1985, a car bomb ripped through a parking lot at the Rhein-Main Air Base, killing Airman First Class Frank Scarton and Becky Bristol, a civilian employee. Another 23 people were injured in the blast. The perpetrators had used Pimental’s ID to get on the base.
Numerous leftists, including jailed RAF members, publicly criticized the murder of the young US soldier and the air base attack. In response, the RAF said: “We are not misty-eyed social workers.”
By the way, on the subject of rehabilitation, one might ask, what does that mean? Is Haule contrite? Does she express true remorse and regret for what she’s done? Is she planning on devoting her life to true social service? Well, no:
Since she has been in prison, Haule has — like Brigitte Mohnhaupt, who was released from jail in March — opted to show no remorse for her actions as an RAF member. She cut off relations with Birgit Hogefeld, an RAF member who distanced herself from the group’s activities. Like her friend Helmut Pohl, she never gave interviews about the RAF. Instead, she has become involved in helping political prisoners.
In other words, she’s without remorse, and is continuing her political activism. Sounds rehabilitated to me. Or, at least, she sounds rehabilitated if she’s a member of the European community that considers Americans second-class beings, and may not be all that troubled at a moral level by their death. (On that point, please read, no matter how depressing it is, Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within.)