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The Death Penalty

I have some pretty strong feelings about the Death Penalty.  It surprises a lot of people that I am staunchly opposed to it.  It's not for the reasons you might think either.  Let's face it, there are some criminals that the world would certainly be a better place if they were no longer taking up air and space.

Generally I get one of two weak responses from death penalty proponents; the first is that "you'd sing a different tune if someone you knew was murdered" and my all time favorite "you're soft on crime".  Both of these are completely laughable but since they are common they must be addressed.

Since no one close to me has ever been murdered, I can not state with 100% certainty how I would exactly feel.  None of us can.  One of my least favorite lines is when someone says "I know what you're going through" when they have never gone through it themselves.  I am fairly certain however that I would want the culprit caught and held accountable for their actions.  I would also want some closure.  If the culprit was caught and sentanced to life in jail with no possibility of parole, I could rest easy knowing that justice had been served and that no one else would have to go through the same ordeal at this individuals hand.  So the pro argument goes that if there is no possiblity of parole why not just execute the individual.  Well, believe it or not we do make mistakes.  Innocent people get convicted of crimes all the time, often due to prosecutors who manipulate evidence and are trying to make a name for themselves.   I can not imagine how I would feel if I were a part of a process that put an innocent person to death.  That's one for sure that I never want to know how it feels.  Frankly I would be just as guilty of murder as the real killer who by the way would still be free.

I love the arguments that we should perform executions more quickly.  Why not just have summary executions?  I'm sure there are people with absolutely no conscience that would do the job.  Let me turn the initial question around to those who support fast track executions; how would you feel if someone you knew was on that fast track and you knew they were innocent?

Unfortunately, or perhaps I should say fortunately, as Americans we are afforded considerable rights including the right of appeal.  It's a cost of freedom and a cost worth paying.

Please spare me the biblical passages about "an eye for an eye".  Here's one for that crowd -"let those among you that have no sin cast the first stone". 

The bottom line - what's the goal here - prevention of crime?  There is no evidence that the death penalty has any deterrent effect. 

As far as closure goes, this is a classic Catch-22.  The long appeal process continues to drag victim's families through the emotional roller coaster yet we have to maintain such a process to ensure due process and an absolute perfect case since the death penalty is absolute.  I always have had one idea for the "eye for an eye" crowd.  If it turns out that we execute the wrong person, how about we execute the prosecutor who tried the case and perhaps even the jury members and anyone else involved with the case?  Of course that's a foolish idea but the goal is just to make you think.

As far as me being "soft on crime" I am actually insulted by anyone making that accusation towards me.  We have laws for a reason and people who choose to violate those laws need to be held accountable for their actions.  Certainly there are laws that I completely disagree with, however my answer is to work to change the laws, not ignore them or otherwise violate them.  I think we as a society need to rethink some punishments but that's another issue.

The Bottom Line - The Death Penalty is an expensive and somewhat barbaric undertaking.  The process is "broken" and in reality can't be "fixed".  It's time to toss it on the scrapheap of bad ideas.  If there was ever a perfect example of a bad idea being embraced by many still being a bad idea this is it.

Reviewed June 28, 2017
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