Thursday, September 22, 2011

Death Penalty

Note: Links are not provided here but I can provide them if asked. Oh and if anyone is pro-death penalty and happens to know my email (assuming you are family or a friend), I'm always up for a good debate!

People spoke. They ranged from everyday citizens to the Pope and presidents past. Still, with little evidence (not even the weapon itself), a man was killed. The Supreme Court and Georgia State let it happen.

And you know the saddest reason? If he was white, he probably would still be alive. He might even have been acquitted for the crime or he might not even have been charged for it at all. Unfortunately, Troy Davis was a black man living in the South in 1989 and he happened to be present during the killing of a cop. Maybe he did it and maybe he didn't but I'm sure that it really didn't matter. He was guilty in the jury's eyes either way.

We talked about it in class and had some very interesting discussions. Today I have become even more against the death penalty than I was before.

My biggest issue against the death penalty is how arbitrary it is. You wouldn't be punished for a murder in New Jersey as you would be in Texas. Certain laws may vary state to state somewhat but we are supposed to be UNITED in similar laws. There's a huge difference between putting someone in jail and executing them.

I'm afraid that it's not just a matter of location. It's also a matter of race. As I alluded to above, minorities get treated very differently than their white counterparts. Black people are more likely to be put on death row than a white person committing the same crime. Made worse is the fact that in cases involving a black murder victim, the white perpetrator is less likely to be put on death row than if the victim was white. Is the murder of a black person any less terrible than that of a white person's? Is their life really worth that much less? I've stated before that I find racism abhorrent but usually it's not a matter of life and death. In this case, it unfortunately is.

This isn't the only reason that I'm against the death penalty however.

For one, many of the men currently being killed were tried on evidence with technology that wasn't as advanced as it is now. They are being killed on insufficient evidence. Take for example the West Memphis (they all happened to be white so the racism argument admittedly doesn't apply to them). In the tiny town they lived in, three boys were brutally murdered in an apparent Satanic cult ritual. They were all friends, outsiders who dressed in black and listened to heavy metal but that was about the only incriminating thing about them. DNA evidence cleared them of the crime. Another important point to consider with this is that odds are the death penalty will kill innocent people, especially when this kind of evidence is offered.

Secondly, the current methods of execution (lethal injection in particular) are violent and borderline torture as well as the time in solitary confinement spent before they are killed. Potassium chloride is administered after sodium pentothal, which is supposed to put the prisoner to sleep. However, there is very little time between its administration and the prisoners often feel a great deal of pain before their death. Solitary confinement produces depression, anxiety, hallucinations as well as a variety of other symptoms. Without others to confirm what you are seeing, you lose a grip on what is going on around you. No matter what these people have done, they are still citizens and have a certain set of rights.

The final and most practical reason against the death penalty is its cost. Between appeals and the money it costs to kill someone, it actually costs more to kill someone than it is to put them on death row. Taxpayers' money is being spent on something completely unnecessary.

Many pro-death penalty people bring up is the relief it brings to the victim of the families and of how these people deserve what they dished out. These families, however, are grieving and therefore irrational. They are by no means able to see the full picture of the situation. By no means should we go by their logic. Our country is not a vigilante system but it is a system that is supposed to be based off of reason. Anyway, what good do their deaths do? It certainly won't bring back their victims.

In conclusion, the death penalty is unethical and a practice our country would do better without.

1 comment:

  1. I agree! I really like the arguments you put forth and invite you to look at my, albeit short, blog post on Troy Davis and the death penalty.