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Talk It Out: Death Penalty

Illustration by: Birmy Michelle | Staff Illustrator

Say no to the death penalty
By Madison Teague

No one should hold the right to take another person’s life.

The death penalty is a barbaric practice that does nothing but seek vengeance against one person to appease the feelings of another. It is not justice.

Deciding the fate of another human being by taking their life makes one no better than the criminal they are condemning.

A major defense of the death penalty is that it is okay because it is legal. Legality does not equal morality, and the law does not define what is right. Besides, the death penalty is only legal in 31 states, which shows how abhorrent 19 states believe the death penalty to be.

The opposition would assert the death penalty is a better option than life in prison because it saves citizen tax dollars. This statement is simply untrue.

In California, keeping each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year than an inmate in general population. This wouldn’t seem like too much of a problem if the execution happened in a timely manner. However, that is not the case.

According to a 2011 New York Times article, the typical prisoner on death row has spent 13 years in prison. Because of this long stay on death row, more than one-fourth of all inmates sentenced to death died of a cause other than execution from 2000 to 2013.

Do those who die awaiting their execution escape justice?

Not only is it cheaper to house regular inmates, but also giving the offender the option of pleading guilty in exchange for life without parole saves taxpayers millions in court fees.

It is ridiculous to claim a person who has been caught and held in the custody of the law is somehow a great threat to anyone. We have the ability to contain criminals so they are no longer a threat. Death is not necessary.

All human beings possess the right to life, but not the right to take life away. To claim it is justifiable to revoke someone’s natural-born right to life simply because it would make the victim or their family feel better is asinine.

Humans make errors. For every 10 people executed on death row, one has been exonerated and set free. If there is even a chance an innocent life could be taken by the death penalty, it should not be seen as a good or moral practice. Innocent people should not be put to death to pacify the masses.

I have seen firsthand how murder can tear apart a family, but what continues to torture the victims of a crime is not the misconduct itself but the inability to forgive. I do not want to be a part of a society that does not believe in forgiveness. Forgiveness should not be seen as a novelty one can turn to if they wish, but as a necessity.

Killing the assailant will do nothing to help a family heal after the murder or attack of a loved one. The only way those family members, and society as a whole, can move on is if they make peace with what happened.

Death allows a criminal to escape the reality of what they have done. It is a far better punishment to force a person to acknowledge the wrong they have inflicted on another and live with the consequences of their actions.

The death penalty is an expensive, inhumane and immoral practice that should be illegal in not just part, but all of the United States.

Why we need the death penalty
By Shannon Davies Special to The Star

The death sentence has been used by most societies for centuries. While it is not a new concept, the ways people are put to death are far less gruesome than they have been in years past.

Granted, the American justice system is highly flawed. The death penalty should not be taken lightly and just handed out to anyone who commits a crime. Imposing stipulations on the practice is a necessity to ensure no mismanagement. However, enforcing the death penalty nationwide remains up to each state. In each case, the crime must fit the punishment and the jury must be sure of their sentencing.

According to data from the Vera Institute of Justice, taxpayers pay an average of $31,286 per inmate in order to provide shelter, medical care and food for the incarcerated. Relegating the money of citizens to the housing and bedding of someone who has committed murder or rape is not something society should stand for.

Detractors often assert that the death penalty does not serve as a real deterrent, but this kind of thinking could be applied to any law on the books. Fining motorists for texting while driving does not deter them from committing the offense. People still routinely text and drive, but the thought of a pretty hefty fine probably prevents some from doing it. Minimization is all we can aspire to when attempting to resolve criminal activity.

Studies about the deterrence are inconclusive. Not killing gruesome murderers could result in a total lack of deterrence, so instead of weighing the odds, it is better to use the death penalty for whatever small benefit it provides. Without it, who knows the number of innocent targets who could be victimized?

During less modern times, being put to death used to range from actions like hanging or a firing squad, which are all very cruel ways to die. Lethal injection is basically dosing the criminal with a combination of drugs to give them a fairly simple death.

The three-shot system includes sodium thiopental, which is meant to put the inmate to sleep. The inmate is then injected with pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the entire muscle system and stops the inmate’s breathing, and the process finishes with potassium chloride to still the heart.

Compared to the deaths of their victims, most perpetrators get off fairly easily. While violence is never the answer, there needs to be some kind of system in place to keep the offenders at bay.

While states try to figure out what they want to do about having the death penalty, the people who are currently waiting on death row will be met with a relatively painless death. Criminals who commit capital offenses will always be around, and what to do with them punishment-wise will always be up for debate. Until the death penalty has its own fate decided, I’m all for it.