Capital punishment and appropriate consequences

Brittany Jordan
Brittany Jordan

We learn through consequences. Positive and negative outcomes have dictated our behavior since we have had the capability of getting ourselves into trouble. And, as adults, we still have consequences. We are expected to abide by the law, and understand that if we do not, there will be adequate punishments.

This is why the death penalty was originally instituted — there are crimes that we all believe to be the worst of the worst, and that the only adequate punishment for that would be taking the perpetrator’s life. And that much hasn’t changed; somehow the scum of humanity finds new ways to be more and more heinous.

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Many people, however, subscribe more to the mentality “an eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind.” There are some that do not believe that taking another’s life is ever the answer, regardless of the crimes committed. So then what is the alternative?

What are we supposed to say to people that continue to commit awful and heinous crimes, and seemingly get away with it?

The only other alternative to the capital punishment is putting perpetrators behind bars for life, without possibility of parole. Strip them of their freedom and let them rot away in a cell.

But I know, for the families of the victims of crimes that are eligible for a capital punishment trial, simply being passive about the situation and just stripping them of their freedom is simply not enough.

Letting someone that stole a loved one away continue to contaminate good air is unacceptable.

But what is really ironic is that those that oppose the death penalty expect the families of survivors to pay, through tax dollars, to keep that perpetrator alive. With a roof over their head and three square meals a day, I’m failing to understand how that is considered adequate punishment.

However, by looking at the current system, it’s pretty easy to see that things aren’t working the way they were intended. Defendants end up spending their lives on death row, continuously avoiding lethal injection through a series of painful and unnecessary appeals. Insisting upon their innocence, defendants rack up thousands and thousands of legal fees to go through a grand jury trial again, hoping for a different outcome.

But every convict in prison is innocent, haven’t you heard? Ask anyone currently serving a life sentence and they will tell you that “they got the wrong guy,” that they were framed, the list goes on.

But we know that forensics is making great leaps and bounds; with technological advances, the likelihood of an innocent man being eligible for the death penalty beyond a reasonable doubt is slim to none.

Many would also argue that individual states should not have the power to sentence a defendant to the death penalty. I would argue, however, that if the crime in question was committed within state lines and the convict will be held within a state prison, that the state is then the only institution that has the right for a jury to go through sentencing procedures.

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Capital punishment has been an area of fairly heated debate for years, but I can see not only why it was instituted in the first place, but also why states hold on to the right to hold a death penalty trial. We believe and understand that there are crimes that are so heinous, the only adequate punishment that we can come up with is to take the life of the perpetrator. It is not a decision that is taken lightly, and convicting a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt takes a lot of insurmountable evidence.

But having the ability to hold a capital punishment trail is absolutely necessary, if that person and others like them are ever to learn the appropriate consequence for their actions.

Brittany Jordan is a junior psychology major. Feedback of all varieties can be sent to letters@collegian.com.