the execution | frontline online
clifford being visited by alan austin
Discussion: Has America become comfortable with capital punishment? Did it make sense to kill Clifford Boggess?


Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a criminal justice graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. My Criminal Law class was instructed to view this program because we are in the process of reading court cases about the constitutionality of the death penalty.

I agree that the US has become comfortable with the death penalty. ... Television is constantly televising death because they realize that murder scenes make ratings. Simply turn on your television, read your newspaper, talk to your children when they play with their toy guns, and you will bescared to death. In my judgement, Mr. Boggess should have died for his crimes. He took one of the most precious things in this world: life. The segment that showed him talking about killing the men,showed Boggess as an unfeeling murderer. I believe in the sanctity of human life unless you are the one who takes that life.In my judgement, if one takes a life, he should pay for that life with his own.

Kevin Proctor
charlotte, n.c.


Dear FRONTLINE,

"The Execution" was a very moving program. It sheds new light on what a family must endure although one can never completely undrestand unless they are in that same situation.

Boggess paid the ultimate price and we should expect nothing less. The victims always seem to be forgotten. They sure as hell didn't get a chance to sell their artwork, or have their own website, or plan their death. It must be an excruciating period of time for a family to have to deal with the murder of a loved one, endure the judicial process and sentencing, and ultimately end at the execution of the convicted killer. It shouldn't have to take so long for justice to be served. No appeals, no interviews, no sale of artwork, no web access.

These killers have by their own actions, forfeited their basic right to life.

And it is our responsibility to those victims to see that justice is carried out. No, it won't bring them back. But then they had no choice but to leave.

Scott Whitehurst
peoria, il


Dear FRONTLINE,

I have taken the time to watch the documentary and read the letters of other veiwers.

And this has really saddened me, how our society and the individuals who make it up are bent and destructive. LIFE IS PAINFUL. Why do we have to focus hateful energy towards the disipation of our brothers. If a person is wrong... we really should take the time regardless of the deed and understand it completely. Only then can we trully understand ourselves and why we do things. Only then can we pass a fair judgement on another. And by doing this we may just find we are not entitled to decide.

There is no joy gratification or justice in the death or impairment of another...

Scott Duval
marlborough , ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank God I'm coming from a country, Italy, where the horror ofthe death penalty doesn't exist and even life in prison is in the process to be revised to a maximum of 30 years. Despite this, the high crime rate in Italy is lower than US. This proves that, apart for being a clear violation of human rights,[the death penalty] doesn't reach the goal of necessarily reducing high crimes.

jersey city, nj


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your program on Clifford Bogess was brought up today in a Feminist Critical Theory class under the question of why were only the women looked at, interviewed as catalysts to Bogess' ultimate act of violence?

He obviously had problems with elderly men, so why does one assume that it is the women's fault instead of, for instance, the abusive grandfather?... Haven't we come far enough to look at both the male and female influences in this man's life when trying to put blame on family structure for the demise of a human being?

Stephanie Kress
pensacola, fl


Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching your program I was so disturbed by it, I not only dreamt about it, but had to share the viewing experience with a few of my co-workers, all who had varied opinions on capital punishment.

By far the most disturbing thought was that this smarmy, boastful and phoney criminal who committed two of the most heinous crimes imaginable would die and go to heaven, simply because he had said that he had repented and turned to Jesus! I believe that the God of Clifford Boggess is also the God of the victims families, and the wrong that was done to them by this man will be righted, somehow, someway...

I think appropriate justice here would mean just that, that he feel the terror, agony and helplessness those two old men must have felt as he was stomping on their chest or watching them collapse like a "puppet on strings."...Of course, the simple, painless execution of Boggess could never be enough punishment to satisfy the families of these two victims, but allowing the murderer to live is wrong also. Plus, I don't believe my tax dollars should pay to keep Clifford Boggess and his various hobbies alive!

And, shame on those of you self-righteous people that wrote bragging how great-hearted they are to forgive, and how cruel and narrow-minded the rest of us are who are outraged by these despicable acts and demand that justice be done!

laura merkel
chicago, il


Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline,

Your special focused on a heartless, demonic individual who showed no remorse for his crimes, planned his execution from beginning to the end, and was able to have his remains sent to Europe to be scattered where Van Gogh might have worked or lived. Your special glorified this monster and showed not one ounce of compassion for the victims. This SOB should not have died in such as "humane" manner!

The next time Frontline decides to do one of these "executions", tell both sides of the story EQUALLY!!!

Dana Stewart
new orleans, la


Dear FRONTLINE,

What struck me most was that [he was] once a child with a future ahead of him and now a murderer. Boggess throughout the interview showned no sorrowfulness or guilt--on the contrary happiness. Happiness that perhaps he has found God and was more than ready to face him....we cannot assume whether he was sorry or not, only he and God know.

Frontline, your broadcast deeply moved me almost bringing me to tears.

JOEL DIAZ
new rochelle , new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

If I was unsure on my stance regarding the death penalty, watching the Frontline program helped me make up my mind.

Yes I support the death penalty without any reservations. It sickens me how our society so quickly forgets the pain and suffering of not only the actual crime victims but also the entire family left behind.

I'm tired of hearing how people aren't responsible for their actions due to something in their past. It's about time we all started to be responsible for our actions and be willing to pay the ultimate price when we cross societies exceptable boundries.

The death penalty could be a deterrent if it were carried out in a reasonable time frame (say 1 year maximum)and not allowed to drag on for YEARS while these murderers sit and think up ways to continue to profit from their crimes, i.e. selling their artwork, etc.

I thought the Frontline special was done very well and didn't get on a soapbox for either side. It's refreshing to see a show that gives the audience enough respect that they let us decide for ourselves how we feel about the death penalty.

Donna Renkel
springfield, missouri


Dear FRONTLINE,

... it would be very instructive, for people pro and con, to see a parallel study on someone who has been given life imprisonment without parole instead of the death penalty for a similar crime.

How does the stress of spending decades in a prison compare to the stress of death row and eventual execution? Such a comparison might shed light on the question of whether society is served or diminished by the death penalty.

Donald Beetham
highland park, new jersey


Dear FRONTLINE,

A very troubling story. I don't believe anyone could be that cheerful in the face of death. Does the fact that the family of the victims achieve a form of closure justify capital punishment? I'm still not convinced it does. Yet, criminals like Sirhan Sirhan and Ted Bundy deserve death. I don't believe that to know all is to forgive all.

new york, new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your insightful programs on crime and punishment in the US. I am amused by all those who keep saying that this condemned man had not been repented. And I am amazed by those who say God could not have forgiven him. This man was a damaged human being clearly he didn't know how to express emotions and even if he did he felt forgiven and happy to be leaving this cruel place some of us call the world. We shouldn't have killed this man. It served no purpose - and even if he had no emotions whatsoever so what? What worries me about this execution is what it does to us. Notice the harsh way some tend to view other human beings - as if they weren't worthy of living. Yet we have all done wrong. If we have done wrong and there is no forgiveness for us in the end it will be because we did not practice that virtue ourselves.

Volley Goodman
houston, tx


Dear FRONTLINE,

Boggess was clearly a monster. The interviews with him were quite bone chilling. Was he truly "reformed," in a Christian faith or merely acting out a hollow fantasy? I'm against cap. punishment, always have been. But, the documentary left me with an unsettling feeling. What do we as a society do about these (unfortunate) monsters? In Boggess' case the irony comes in the fact that, as the frustrated relatives of the murdered victim admitted, that in the end he got precisely what he wanted-to be murdered himself.

Dan Hoffman
houston, tx


Dear FRONTLINE,

Did the killing make sense? I emphatically say NO.

As a former litigation paralegal for capital murder defense teams, I have had the opportunity to work closely with accused and convicted defendants.

... Life without Parole is an acceptable alternative to the death penalty. I currently reside in a state which does not have the death penalty. Yes there is overcrowding of correctional facilities, which I gladly pay higher taxes to support just as we paid for welfare, education and other public programs to assist those who do not have all the 'tools' necessary for harmless living.

I believe the artwork and the history depicted in the program were valid attempts to mitigate, which is not to say excuse, but rather to find how this person came to commit such acts.

green bay, wi


Dear FRONTLINE,

After seeing this program, I think I am changing my stance on the death penalty. Formerly a proponent, I was sickened by how Bogess seemed to thrive on the attention that his execution brought. In my opinion, he was at the very least a bad liar as far as his "redemption" was concerned. Bogess and others like him should be given the punishment sociopaths fear most: living out a lonely existence with only their own thoughts to keep them company. It was an incredible program that moved me deeply.

tim mcnally
philadelphia, pa

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