Cybercrime

When I was a State’s Attorney, one guy I put on death row had murdered 17 or 18 (who’s counting?) souls. One by one by one. He was tried for two of the murders in an intense – highly emotional – 3-1/2 week jury trial. He was convicted and then – in the bifurcated trial – the jury heard evidence that would justify the death penalty. Or not. In my closing argument, I called him “the grim reaper of death.” The jury was out for a few hours and walked back into the courtroom with somber faces. Never looking at the defendant. All 12 signed on and the killer sat on death row for about 4 years until an appellate court “modified” the sentence.

More than half of all states in the U.S. have laws that justify capital punishment. So does America’s criminal justice system. Since the trial, my feelings on this topic have softened. A bit. I sometimes think that life – without parole – is a better punishment. But then again, just what do you do with people who are worse than your worst nightmare. Who are hardwired to do truly unspeakable things to their victims.

On Sunday (6/6/21) Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that cybercrime presented “a lot of parallels” to the threat of terrorism before 9/11. And she refused to rule out military options to defend America against ransomware criminals. I don’t disagree. When cybercriminals invade hospital data systems or worse use malicious software to invade and shut down medical systems, and people die, what should America do? Cybercrime is intentional. And it can be devastating. With the prospects of fatalities escalating on all levels of cybercrime – should we say pay the ransom and leave the perps to do it again? Or do we go at them. With an vengeance.

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