By Valery Jorgensen ’15
A life for a life; in essence, this is what the death penalty stands for. Capital punishment in some states is death. But is it actually moral to kill someone who committed heinous crimes? Consider this: Your closest loved one is shot to death. However, they weren’t randomly shot to death from a distance. They are shot at point blank range multiple times. The killer has no remorse and has said, given the opportunity to go back in time he would do the same thing again. The jury finds him guilty. What would you want to happen this person? Life in prison or to be placed on death row? Remember, just because a criminal is sentenced to the death penalty, it could be years before the execution happens. Most death row inmates will spend roughly 20 years on death row going through the appeals process before being executed. If it were my loved one who was brutally murdered by a cold-hearted killer, I would not want the killer to be sentenced to the death penalty. I would want him or her to rot in jail for the rest of his or her life, so he or she could think about what he or she did each and every day. The death penalty is not moral and is giving the convicted criminal an easy way out.
This year California voted on the death penalty law in attempt to change capital punishment to life in prison without possibility of parole, rather than execution. The citizens of California decided to keep the death penalty in effect. Along with California, Washington State also has the death penalty in effect. The death penalty should be heavily considered in the following years by younger generations to bring change to society. Taking a life for a life is not moral. If a citizen decided to kill someone in retaliation for a previous manslaughter, they would be sentenced to jail. However, the courts are allowed to basically do the same thing. The death penalty is murder.
A current California case, Nathan Burris killed Deborah Ann Ross and Ersie Everette Jr. at the toll plaza for the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Burris and Ross were previously in a relationship until Ross ended it prior to the slaying. A jealous Burris thought Ross and Everette started having a romantic affair. After the shootings, Burris pleaded guilty and chose to represent himself in court. In the sentencing, Burris taunted the jury. He joked around saying things along the lines of, how he didn’t care what the jury decided regarding his punishment and how he would do the same thing again if he could do it over. He was sentenced to the death penalty. However, with all of his coarse behavior, he brought up an interesting point. Burris stated how one reason he didn’t care what punishment they decided was because he figured he would still have thirty to forty years of life to live on death row. In states where inmates live for years before being executed defeats the purpose of having a death penalty.
Another reason for abolishing the death penalty is executing inmates is actually more expensive than having them live in jail for years. In California, it costs roughly 117.6 million dollars per year for trials, appeals, and execution of death penalty inmates per year. California voted to keep the death penalty in essence because there was a clause that would give the government 1 million dollars. That one million dollars is next to nothing compared to what is spent for death row inmates appeals and execution costs.
The death penalty is an easy way out for the most dangerous murderers. Instead of living out their sentence, they are stuck with a needle and the process is over. They do not suffer for more than a couple of minutes. One Arizona death row inmate, Dale Hausner, sent a letter to courts asking to have his execution date sped up. According to AzCentral online newspaper, his letter stated, “The State of AZ wanted me to get the death penalty before and during my trial. I was found guilty and given six death sentences. Now that I want to get executed, suddenly my mental state is in question. … I am not insane, I am of sound mind. I simply wish to get the punishment handed down to me, but more quickly. I mean really, what’s a guy got to do to get snuffed out?” For the death penalty to be effective, criminals should fear it. This shows Hausner would rather be executed than waiting in jail to see if his lawyer could win the appeals process and spare his life. Executing inmates lets them go. There is no amount of remorse that can build over the years. There is no guilt that can eat away inside of them. And even though they are killers, they still have family and friends that will not get to see them and will have to mourn the loss. A life for a life is not the way to go. Life in prison is.