Today, the Dylann Roof saga neared some semblance of closure as the young man was sentenced to death. The jury returned the death sentence after only three hours of deliberation. The speed of the sentencing decision was likely fueled by Roof's own insistence that he did not suffer from any mental impairments, coupled with his lack of a repentant attitude. To make matters worse for Roof, he not only confessed to the murders, he never even appeared remorseful for his actions.
When delving into the tragedy of this hate crime, it becomes abundantly clear that Roof held disturbing, patently false, and racist beliefs. The guilty verdict was reached in mid-December during the guilt-phase of the trial. Roof was convicted of all 33 counts, over 20 of which fell under the federal hate crimes statutes. The death penalty was reached today during the sentencing-phase of the trial. During this phase, the families of the victims were asked to present testimony about their losses. Roof chose to represent himself during this phase of the trial, despite the advice of the court and counsel.
Will Roof Actually Get Executed?
Whether or not Roof ever gets executed is a wholly different question. Because Roof was convicted of federal charges, it is on the federal government to imprison him and execute the sentence. However, the federal government does not often execute death row inmates. In fact, it has been over ten years since the last federal execution, which occurred in 2003.
Stopping Hate Crimes
Roof's crimes were motivated by racial hatred. There is very little doubt about that, particularly given his own statements and affiliations. Hate crimes of the type that Roof committed are something that, unfortunately, law enforcement cannot really stop. Although the penalties for committing hate crimes are much stricter, stopping violence motivated by hate is a task that every member of society needs to contribute towards.
Stopping hate crime requires education and teaching cultural acceptance. Unfortunately, in a time where cultural acceptance can still take a backseat to the fear of other cultures, there is only the slightest bit of comfort knowing that the national community rallied together to condemn Roof's actions.