Do You Support State Sponsored Murder?

Electric chair

Electric chair (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

Ladies and gentlemen, once upon a time I fully supported the death penalty here in the United States.  I thought that executions were a just and necessary punishment for people who committed murder.  In fact, I thought that we had gone too soft when we got rid of the electric chair, public hangings, the guillotine, the firing squad, etc.  There was not any punishment too cruel and unusual for me when it came to cold-blooded murder.

My mind began to change about the death penalty once I started doing some research.  There is no way of knowing how many innocent people this country has put to death.  I’d venture to say well into the thousands in just the past 100 years, but I cannot back up those figures with real evidence.  There is, however, real evidence of people who spent the better part of their lives on death row finally being released because they were finally able to prove their innocence.  141 people in 26 states have been exonerated and released from prison since 1973, with an average of 5 exonerations per year since 2000.

That number might not seem like a lot to you, but it does to me.  Yes, people who have been murdered deserve justice. Their murderer deserves to be punished.  I would like to emphasize that last point:  a victim’s murderer deserves to be punished—not the guy that cops picked up during a hurried investigation.  That guy and the guy who actually did the murder are not always the same person.

If we are going to execute someone, we had better make damn sure that it is the person who is actually guilty of the crime they are accused of committing.  And until we can do that with certainty, the death penalty should be suspended in all states.

English: Total number of executions carried ou...

Total number of executions carried out in the USA up to 2010.  Source of data: Death Penalty Information Center – Executions in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But even if we started catching every guilty person who has run and ducked from the law, is the death penalty really effective to prevent crime?  Is it really a deterrent?  It doesn’t seem to be.

I live in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States and someone (or many someones) is murdered here every day.  Our prisons are overflowing.  The people who go out and kill are obviously not deterred by that fact, are they?  They know the consequences of the crimes they are committing and they commit them anyway.

Once can safely assume that the death penalty is not a deterrent.  In fact, some malicious jerks out there are probably willing to wager that they will never get caught, that some innocent person will be put on death row in their place.  It happens all the time, doesn’t it?

Since our justice system is not perfect at catching the bad guy and possibly putting a needle into an innocent person’s arm, the death penalty, to me, is nothing more than state sponsored murder.  And again, it should be suspended until we know that all people on death row are guilty.  I do not ever see that happening.  Police work is too focused on getting people behind bars and not doing a proper investigation to make sure they have the right person or people.

Are you for or against the death penalty?  Are you like me, a person who has concluded that it is nothing more than state sponsored murder, or do you feel that it is effective in preventing crime and bringing justice to grieving families?  Sound off in the comments below.

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