How Should Society Deal With Monsters?

This is a story that has been on the news outlets for a few days now. I bring it up here not because of the horrible and disgusting details, but to ask what would be an appropriate penalty for such a heinous crime? How should society deal with people who act so monstrously that it is difficult to call them human?

A 73 year old man who held his own daughter prisoner as a sex slave for 24 years and forcibly fathered seven children by her, has been arrested in Austria. Despite having convictions for sexual assault and the daughter having accused him of abusing her,

Josef Fritzl was able to convince social service workers, friends and family that Elisabeth had run away in 1984, when she was about 18. Police describe him as an authoritarian figure, forbidding anyone in the family from entering the cellar.


The mother claims she didn’t know anything about this, which I don’t believe for a second. She claimed that she thought her daughter was in a cult and kept leaving children on the doorstep for her and the father to take care of. Several of the children were adopted out. Several other children were kept prisoner in the basement with the mother.

In the cellar with Elisabeth were a daughter, Kerstin, 19; and two sons, Stefan, 18; and Felix, 5.

The three children held in the cellar in the town of Amstetten were still in the hospital Tuesday after their horrific ordeal.

The eldest of the children, Kerstin Fritzl, was in an induced coma.
Stefan and Felix are said to be doing "surprisingly well and in good health," considering that they had never been exposed to sunlight, CNN's Phil Black said. The boys are still undergoing medical treatment, he added.

The case only came to light when Krestin had to be taken to the hospital due to a severe illness. The father reportedly told his wife that Krestin had been dropped off at the hospital so they could take her to the hospital. Other news outlets have reported that the wife had the combination to the lock on the basement cell. Can anyone really believe that the wife didn’t know about the daughter who is now 42, and the other three children locked in the cell? Apparently the police believe her.
Authorities said it doesn't appear that Rosemarie Fritzl was involved in or knew about her husband's activities.

Seven births, three children grown to adulthood and another five year old kept in a 100 square foot cell for 24 years, and she never suspected or heard anything? Unbelievable!

Now this is the question I have, what would be an appropriate punishment in a case like this? According to the TV news, the father could be sentenced to fifteen years for raping his daughter. Fifteen years! For 24 years of cruel sadistic behavior perpetrated against his own daughter, not to mention the other three children, he might get fifteen years! (Knowing European sesibilities they might decide hs"s too old to send to prison) Yes, he’s got a good chance of dying in prison, but he’s got a chance of getting out when he is 90 too. How is that justice?

I support the death penalty for murder and normally I would be against it in a case where no one is killed, but this case is so abhorrent that it demands something more than a prison sentence. There are many reasons for punishing a person for crimes, including protecting society, rehabilitation, retribution, and punishment. But there is also justice that must be addressed. For that to happen punishment must fit the crime and fifteen years in prison just doesn’t seem to satisfy justice in this case. The father will serve less prison time than he kept his daughter locked in a windowless cell. How can a civil society survive when crimes like are treated in such a trivial manner? Is it any wonder that criminals run amok when punishments don’t come close to fitting the crime?

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