Now that 9/11 defendant Zacarias Moussaoui has been cleared for the death penalty, the din will rise for his immediate execution.

But if he really is guilty, and is now seeking martyrdom, the death penalty goes too easy on him. We should sit him in front of a "Scream Screen" instead.

The last mass murderer to face the death penalty in this country hastily embraced it. When faced with a choice between life in prison or death, Timothy McVeigh chose death. Perhaps many of the families of the 180 people he slaughtered at the federal building in Oklahoma City found closure in that.

But so did McVeigh. In existential terms, he got off easy. He may be roasting in Hell right now, but we can't know that. And if he is, he would have gone anyway, without taxpayers footing the bill for his assisted suicide.

We know our justice system is far from perfect. For every hundred "murderers" that are executed, the odds would say somewhere between one and fifteen are almost certainly innocent. Given the stunning number of convicted "murderers" who've been proven innocent by DNA and other means lately, it's clearly impossible to be both pro-life and pro-death penalty. To support the death penalty is to support the inevitable official murder of at least some innocent people. In the just world toward which we all must strive, even one is far too many.

The death penalty is also expensive. Given the cost of the appeals, the time served waiting, the immense drain on public resources of trial after trial, the media circus, the wrongful death lawsuits when someone innocent is executed, and so on….it does ultimately cost as much to enforce the death penalty as it would just to slap all convicted capital criminals automatically in jail for life.

But that leaves dissatisfied many victims' families, and many members of society. On the opposite side are those who don’t want to have more killing associated with the loss of their loved ones, and those in society who oppose the death penalty on moral and spiritual grounds.

Not much middle ground has materialized over the years. But then there's the "Scream Screen."

Every prison cell on death row should be fitted with a television monitor---a "Scream Screen"---that has no controls operable by the prisoner. The one-way transmission should then come from the victims' families. They can yell, they can scream, they can cry, they can accuse, they can do whatever they need to do and say whatever they need to say and show whatever they need to show for as long as they need to do it to this person that did them such harm. They can do it live or on tape. They can play footage of the victim, the victim's parents, children, spouses, lovers, team mates, school buddies, whoever.

The convicted must sit there, ten hours/day, six days/week, for however long it goes on, until?….

Some may call this cruel and unusual punishment, as banned by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. It's certainly unusual. But cruel? Compared to execution (especially of the innocent) that would be a hard case to argue.

What would the effects be? Would it be useful to the families of the victims? Would it have a different impact on those who are guilty as opposed to those who are not? Would it drive each and every prisoner stark raving mad?

That we would have to see. Obviously, this hasn't been tried before. But we have tried the death penalty. It doesn't seem to stop murder, rape, arson, terrorism or much of anything else ... except the beating heart of some human beings, many of them inevitably innocent.

Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA: OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030 is now available at, as is HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION, & IS RIGGING 2008, written with Bob Fitrakis.