Army Gives Hasan What He Wants: Not Martyrdom, But Over $3 Million Dollars
It was clear from the beginning of the trial at Fort Hood that Army Major Nidal Hasan, the now convicted and sentenced murdering terrorist of the massacre at Fort Hood, wanted to receive the death penalty. Many believe this is because he wants to be a martyr to Islamic extremists across the globe. I believe it is something much more simple - over $3 Million in military pay.
In researching this, it seems there is a little quirk in military justice laws and how officers are paid after they are convicted. In a case like this, the accused is normally given a reduction in pay to E-1 (private in the case of the Army) and sentenced to a bad conduct discharge in connection to the sentence of either life in prison or the death penalty. For military officers however, they cannot be reduced in rank, nor discharged from the military payroll system until all appeals are finalized.
If Hasan had received life in prison, those appeals would move pretty quickly through the system, and at some point in the future, he would be reduced to E-1, given his BCD and then be sent to Fort Leavenworth for the rest of his life, without pay. However, since he received the death penalty, the appeals and discharge likely never happen until the day of his execution.
Currently, there are five people on death row in the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. The longest serving has been on death row since April of 1989 (24 years!). There has not been a military execution since 1961.
Hasan is a young man (currently 42). It is quite conceivable that he could easily spend 35 years or more on death row drawing his full pay and allowances. There are no restrictions on what an inmate can do with their military pay. As a major, his current pay rate is $7,243.70 per month. This is only his base pay. I do not know if he still receives "professional pay" for being a psychiatrist or not, or if he receives any other pay allowances because of his rank and status. That 35 years in prison could bring him over $3,000,000 in pay over that period of time (not including any statutory raises). $3M that he can use for whatever purpose he seeks.
Perhaps we would have been better served to just put him in a dark cell with a life sentence where, at some point, his pay and allowances would eventually get cut off. It doesn't look like we are going to execute him anyway, according to recent history.