Death Row Rights
This morning the new is abuzz with the fact that Paul Haigh, one of Australia's worst serial killers, has asked to have a deck of tarot cards as he sits and serves six life sentences. It has raised some questions about if death row inmates (and those serving life sentences) should be allowed access to pagan tools. I weigh in on the controversy.
Mia Alviz over at The Sybil's Tarot started the conversation with a very insightful blog post. You can read it HERE. Now I understand that the justice system's vary to a degree, so my thoughts are based on the US system of justice and my understanding of it.
Now Paul Haigh was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Lisa Brearley, 19, 58-year-old Tattslotto agency worker Evelyn Adams, 45-year-old pizza shop operator and father of two Bruno Cingolani, Sheryle Gardner, 31, and her nine-year-old son Danny Mitchell, and associate Wayne Keith Smith, 27. The murders were vile and sadistic - and spanned 11 years. He feels no remorse for his crimes, instead blaming his victims for their own deaths, and was sentenced to six life sentences.
Now I won't share the details of the crimes, because they ARE horrible, and no one needs those images in their heads. But what is important is Paul's religious beliefs. He considers himself pagan, and as such has asked for a deck of tarot cards to read with in his cell. He has been repeatedly denied his request.
He argues that he should be allowed to practice his religious beliefs and that denying him tarot cards violates his rights. I can hear a lot of you right now - Who gives a shit about his rights? He KILLED a child (among others)! And to a degree I understand that point of view. But who gets to decide whose religious beliefs we are going to allow, and whose we aren't? I mean, a Christian criminal can have a Bible in their cell, a Catholic can have a rosary, a Muslim is allowed a prayer rug... So why shouldn't a pagan be allowed a tool of their religious beliefs?
Paul has brought his case in front of the Supreme Court - all paid for by tax payer dollars. I personally wonder why it had to go so far. Regardless of if you believe in the tarot or pagan beliefs is irrelevant. HE believes (or so he says) and therefore his religious rights should be no different then any other prisoner. I mean, what harm can he possibly do with 78 little rectangles of cardboard? The cost of the most expensive mass market deck I have seen was like $40 (and included the full guide book) - wouldn't it just have been cheaper to give this asshat a deck of cards and shut him up then to waste all that money denying his small request?
It brings to light the willingness of the justice system to step over dimes to pick up pennies - ignoring simple solutions to problems and going with the more expensive option. I don't agree with what Paul did - in fact I am utterly appalled - but it's not like he's going anywhere. Give the man a deck of cards for goodness sake and let him be.
What are your thoughts? Should ANY prisoners serving multiple life sentences or on death row be allowed the spiritual "creature comforts" of their religion?
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24 years of tarot experience, 20 years experience as a mom, and a lifetime of knowledge is just rattling around in here!