Death to the Death Penalty

Res Stecker
Res Stecker

When discussing the lively topic that is the death penalty, there are usually two sides to the argument.

Either fry them or let those scum rot in prison, costing us all tons of money.


Today, the death penalty is left to the states to make a decision on whether to employ it or not. States such as the socially advanced ones in the New England area do not utilize it; while the southern states, particularly Texas, seem to have the desire to put in an express lane into the chambers and furnaces.

Clearly there are some crimes that are so heinous, so unforgivable that people cannot be let back into society. Rapists and drunk drivers who kill people make the top of the list of rejects that have no place in participating in the American way of life. However it is a very slippery slope when the state has the right to execute its own citizens. True, many of these people are convicted by juries of their peers, but the state or government is still the entity carrying out the killing of its people.

The problem is not that some people don’t deserve to die; they most certainly do, and some crimes warrant death. I’m just not so sure that the government be it state, federal, or local should be the ones in charge of carrying it out. I am for big government in some areas, such as healthcare, but the destruction of a person by the authorities is not something to be enthusiastic about.

On the other side of the coin, it is completely unrealistic to continue keeping these grotesque people alive and living on better conditions than homeless veterans. Our prisons are overflowing with the rabble of our communities and it’s a real strain on everyone. Prison upkeep is a huge expense in Colorado, and it takes away from education, especially higher education funding.

Thus we are all left with a conundrum: to give the state the right and power to execute us when we are deemed to have done something wrong? Or do we keep many of the most demented souls the human race has ever had the displeasure of producing alive and kicking into their 90s in our state prison?

I am advocating for a third option that in a way splits the two aforementioned problems into a middling acquiescence that is better for all of America. If every state collaborated on digging a giant hole in the ground in say, Southern Utah, we could simply toss all of our worst criminals into the hole and let them fend for themselves. Send in daily supplies of water and food and let them sort it out themselves. And hey, it would even be better for them, since they would then have their freedom as well. No guards, nothing to restrain them from going about whatever it is they want to do.

It’s possible this could develop into a Hunger Games style of pit prison, but it would not be any more cruel and unusual than keeping someone locked in a cage or lethally injecting them, both options which are vastly more expensive to society.

The pit would have a big upfront cost, but after that it would simply be food and water as necessary. The guards and infrastructure costs would be largely done away with. Thus, the state would no longer be killing its own citizens, nor would we be paying ungodly amounts to keep lawmakers safe and cozy…

It would be quite appalling if this system was ever put into practice, but the absurdity does show that the current processes of some states executing people while others treat them better than they do the homeless are inadequate, and we need a new solution to the problem.

Richard Stecker is a senior international studies and history double major, and is happy to write witty whimsical words of wisdom for all. Questions and comments can be sent to