Is Modern Medicine Making the Murder Charge Obsolete?

Is it time for a new murder charge? Let's call it "intended" murder rather than "attempted" murder. According to a front page article in today's Wall Street Journal, homicides are falling despite soaring gun violence. Part of the decreasing number of deaths by shooting or stabbing is not from reduced numbers of violent acts, but from better trauma care.

Just like the space program gave us Tang and integrated circuits in the 1960s, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2000s has taught our medical practitioners how to patch up and save victims who would have surely died if their misfortune had occurred only a decade before.

While this advance is hailed as a societal benefit of modern medicine, does it actually benefit the perpetrator more than the victim? The victim of traumatic violence will likely have to endure painful and sometimes disfiguring injuries for the rest of their unnatural life, while the purveyor of the deed will avoid being charged with murder. Murder is a very serious crime which carries severe penalties up to and including death. And face it, police investigate murders much more vigorously than attempted murder, so many unsuccessful murderers go unapprehended due to caseload.

By keeping people alive we have inadvertently created a class of criminals that effectively draw a "Get out of jail FREE" card, courtesy of the heroic efforts of the trauma unit personnel at local hospitals. Not only are they escaping the onerous charge of murder, they should also be charged with grand theft. The cost of snatching someone from the jaws of death is enormous and many of the victims have no medical insurance. Who pays these fees?

I propose that the states, along with the federal government, create a new category of crime called intended murder. Without getting all Supreme Court-y, intended murder would be the commission of a premeditated act that would have killed someone had extraordinary measures not been taken to save them. By comparison, attempted murder is where someone tried to kill someone, but missed, was thwarted, or the act was otherwise ill-conceived.

Over history, the value of human life has been cheap. It is only during the past century or two in modern society that life gained significant value (notice that I left out today's un-modern societies of which there are still many). Over the past several decades, as violence has permeated the underbelly of our nation, life is being cheapened again.

If we are to turn this tide and restore value to ALL life, then the penalty for trying to extinguish life, even if the attempt is unsuccessful, must have the same repercussions as a successful attempt.

Comments

Just curious, but what would be the practical effect of intended murder? Would it change how either the perpetrator or victim be treated any differently or have different penalties?
The Asterisk said…
I would suggest that intended murder be treated the same as murder.
Craig Hollins said…
I might be thick but I fail to see the difference. The intent in both is to kill but there are slightly different outcomes depending on the circumstances. I agree that attempted murderers will get off far too often, but your plan will only make the lawyers more money and make trials last longer.
Have realistic penalties for killing or attempting to kill someone.

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