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Now that Omaha has captured its sniping slayer, the question remains what to do with him. Since the authorities have discouraged the simple process of lynching, the law will in all probability take its course. A healthy self-interest requires that the sniper who killed for fun be made powerless to work harm on his fellows.
At this point, the complicated amnesties available to the insane afford legal loopholes for the murderer. If it can be proven that the killer was crazy, and by the very promiscuity of his murders he is so branded, he will obtain special consideration separating him from the good, honest burglar who killed a man to escape capture. The Omaha sniper, if his case is cleverly managed, may be committed to a state lunatic asylum from which he can conceivably be released as "cured" when outward sings of abnormality disappear. Whereas the honest burglar with understandable motives for murder suffers the extreme penalty of the law.
The favored position of maniacs legally puts a premium on insanity, which forces the shrewdest wrongdoers to put in a plea of lunacy if they are to expect clemency. Modern nations do all in their power to reclaim the hopelessly insane criminal and at the same time punish the sane man of perverted ideals as rigorously as the prevailing idea of justice permits.
From the reformer's point of view more lasting good can be achieved by impressing on the normal man the advantage of obeying the law than by spending a like amount of energy in the attempt to teach a lunatic the difference between right and wrong. One can never hope that a mental defective will do constructive work for society or even that he will become independent of charitable aid. Practically therefore the sane criminal should at least be on a parity with the lunatic wrongdoer in the eyes of the law. Misplaced mercy to the hopelessly insane does not add to the total of human happiness.
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