Monday, July 04, 2005

Karla Homolka

Today, the notorious Canadian serial killer Karla Homolka is getting out of jail after serving just 12 years in prison. For those of you unfamiliar with Homolka, she is a woman who was offered a plea deal to testify against her husband, Paul Bernardo, in the brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder of two teenagers: Kristen French, and Leslie Mahaffy. It was assumed by the authorities that Bernardo was the ringleader and Homolka was the poor, beaten, and abused wife who went along with her abusive husband's demands.

Then, the videotapes were found....

It turned out that the sadistic couple had videotaped the captivity, rape, and murder of French and Mahaffy, and the tape revealed Homolka as an active and eager participant. They also showed Homolka as an active participant in a number of other rapes, including the rape and inadvertent death of her own sister, Tammy Homolka.

Tammy Homolka had died a few years previously. The authorities exhumed body up for an autopsy, and it was proven that she had been drugged to an unconscious state, and had choked on her own vomit while she was being raped by Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. Karla Homolka had given her sister to her husband Paul Bernardo as a perverted Christmas present. She had come up with the idea of using sedatives to knock out her sister so her husband could rape her, and she even obtained the drugs from her job at a veterinary clinic.

Homolka went on to help Bernardo rape an indeterminate number of other women and murder two. However, at the time the authorities struck a plea bargain with Homolka, they were not aware of this. If they had been, they would never have agreed to a plea bargain, and Homolka would be rotting the rest of her life away behind bars.

Many Canadians are justifiably outraged that a serial murderer like Homolka could be released from prison at all. After all, a person who has murdered more than once could easily murder again.

However, there may still be some solace in Homolka being released from prison. Homolka was safe in prison, and she knew it. Being on the street, however, she does not have any of that kind of reassurance. Many Canadians view Homolka and Bernardo as living arguments in favor of the death penalty (which they do not have in Canada) and I expect there are at least a few Canadians who would be willing to administer to Homolka the type of final justice they feel she deserves.

In fact, Homolka is so reviled in Canada, her facing vigilante justice up there is not a question "if", it is "when". Until recently, one Canadian had run a website called the "Karla Homolka Death Pool" allowing visitors to place bets on how many days Karla would live after she is released from prison, and included a rule against "fixing the bet by killing her yourself -- this is not only illegal but you will forfeit your place as Karla Homolka Death Pool Champion. Remember, killing is wrong." Even if Homolka never faces vigilante justice, she will have to spend the rest of her life worrying about it, and asking herself every day, "is this the day they find me?"

Homolka being released from prison today is a travesty of justice, and a blight on the face of the Canadian justice system. For sadistic murderers like Homolka, there is no such thing as rehabilitation, the primary goal of justice should be to punish the offender and protect society from him/her. And, in this case, the system failed miserably.