In my country there exists a method of cruel and unusual punishment that is known to all as the death penalty. Many condone this procedure on “an eye for an eye” philosophy. But since when does killing someone for killing someone make sense? And that is exactly what happens when an executioner as well as all involved, including jurors, helps in the fate and death of another human being. For me, the words of Gandhi says it all, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
If one is truthful to themselves then they will agree that the judicial system is far from being fair. Verdicts are not always the right ones, and sentencing is not always based on the severity of the crime. The rich seem to get away with much more than the poor because they can afford the best representation money can buy. Ending up with an inexperienced court appointed lawyer because you cannot afford your own can be a death sentence in itself.
Many people who support the death penalty have never even taken the time to research this subject so they know little about the facts or consequences. I suppose they feel that murderers deserve to die and that is all they need to know. But the most dangerous criminals in our society are not the only ones that are being executed. Innocent people that include those too poor to afford adequate representation, along with those who are mentally ill or insane have been put to death. Many criminals who have committed horrific crimes are often found innocent on a technicality. In some cases, even though major evidence has been presented, judges and DA’s have refused to reconsider death sentences. The death penalty is applied randomly and has become what I call a lethal lottery.
The death penalty does not deter crime or create a safer society. In fact, states that use this barbaric method have murder rates higher than those who do not. The South has the highest murder rate and accounts for nearly 80% of U.S. executions. And if you think that the death penalty is saving the taxpayers money, you better think again! It cost considerably more to execute someone than to keep him or her in prison for life. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use this money for more useful purposes such as helping the families of murder victims.
Putting someone to death does not bring back the person that was killed. It does not heal or end the pain. It only continues the vicious cycle of excruciating heartbreak, as now the families of the accused must experience what it is like to lose a loved one. Why would anyone who has gone through this ordeal want to inflict those feelings on another?
As of this day The Innocence Project, which is an organization dedicated to proving the innocence of those wrongfully convicted through DNA, has helped 312 falsely accused individuals become exonerated. Since 1976 over 1,200 people executed were later found innocent.
Most of us will be accused of something we did not do in our lifetime. Parents may believe that their child has done something wrong when they did not and he/she will be punished. A boss may believe an employee stole something which really is not true and fire that person. A spouse may believe he/she has been cheated on when the truth is that person has always been faithful and will become divorced. These situations can be traumatic to the person being accused but these accusations and the emotional turmoil pale in comparison to those who are wrongfully sent to prison. Innocent people lose their freedom, spending time with their families, their hopes and dreams, and even their lives.
I believe that when a horrendous crime has been committed some people are blinded by the crime. All they see is what has been done and they want someone to pay. I can understand that. What I cannot understand is where is the justice in taking the chance of executing an innocent person? What if you were facing the death penalty and did not do the crime you were about to die for? How would you feel if someone you loved was on death row and you knew they were innocent? I truly hope you never have to find out.
© Cheryl Wright 2014