OPINION: We shouldn’t kill killers


Final march/manifestation finale, Genève 2010

Katelyn Bale

The United States should abolish capital punishment. Also known as the death penalty, this fatal form of punishment for committed crimes serves no true justice and produces more harm than good.

The death penalty not only violates the Eighth Amendment but it also costs the taxpayers more money for a prisoner to be on death row than it does for them to be in on a life sentence punishment.

Capital cases cost states an average of 3.2 times more than non-capital cases, according to Peter A. Collins among others. Similarly, according to the Office of Defender Services of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, death penalty cases cost the federal government eight times more than as a trial where the death penalty is not sought.

Practicing the death penalty causes innocent people to potentially die because they were wrongly accused. A 2010 poll by Lake Research Partners found that 61 percent of voters supported a punishment other than the death penalty for murder.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) estimates four percent of death row inmates are wrongly convicted. Since 1973, more than 162 death row inmates in the United States have been exonerated or deemed innocent.

These numbers are too high; America cannot risk killing innocent people.

I understand how some would agree with capital punishment if someone were to murder my family or commit a heinous crime against someone I care about, I couldn’t face them either.

However, wouldn’t it be better and more economically efficient to have the perpetrator spend the rest of their life in prison? Wouldn’t it be better for the innocent man?

The perpetrator is not the only person hurt by the death penalty.

Executioners often face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues from their jobs.

According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, 31 percent of state executioners develop PTSD while only 20 percent of Iraq war veterans develop it.

Jerry Givens, a former executioner with a body count of 62, said “You have to transform yourself into that person that will take a life. Every time an execution was announced, it meant that I had to prepare myself mentally to kill.”

California Governor Edmund Brown, who had the decision of whether the death penalty would be granted in 59 different cases said, “The longer I live, the larger loom those 59 decisions about justice and mercy that I had to make as governor.”

“It was an ultimate power over the lives of others that no person or government should have. And looking back over their names and files now, I realize that each decision took something out of me that nothing — not family or work or hope for the future — has ever been able to replace,” Brown said.

With the higher cost of the death penalty, the injustice of the many wrong convictions resulting in the loss of innocent lives and with the pain the issue causes to both families and those who perform the final act, there is no reason to perform the death penalty.

Final march/manifestation finale, Genève 2010″ bWorld Coalition Against the Death Penalty on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0. No changes were made to the original image. Use of the image does not indicate photographer endorsement of the article. For the full license, click here.