Capital Punishment: The High Cost of ‘Justice’
One day, you were sitting in your house, minding your own business, when the police knocked on your door. You are suddenly whisked away to prison. All of the trials and courtrooms you go through flash by. And suddenly, without you knowing how, you are on death row, waiting for your execution day. This is what capital punishment does to people, even innocent people. It is very counterintuitive; it is not the only option, and it is catastrophic for everyone’s mental and spiritual health.
Execution’s Irony: Seeking Fame Through Death
First of all, the death sentence has the opposite effect than the original intent. For a start, it gives the supposed killer more publicity than they ever deserve. Before they are killed, they can say a few words on television or radio. Seeing a killer being filmed in front of television, viewed by millions, might give the wrong impression to people who want to be famous or infamous. Second, we spend millions on capital punishment instead of spending our tax dollars to help grieving families. As well as that, there have been studies and data collected that in states where the death penalty is utilized, there have been more murders than in the states where the death penalty is illegal. And last but most important, the families of the victims are not helped. It has never changed how the families feel or how much they have lost.
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Beyond Death: Exploring Humane Alternatives
Second, there has always been and always will be an alternative punishment for a crime as opposed to killing. As much as people have invented injections to make it less painful, it always is excruciating. One unpopular alternative is going to trial for life. The reason people oppose this form of punishment so much is because there is always a chance for the judge to let him out. But the other option is mandatory life with no parole. There is yet another alternative, thought up by Chief Justice Warren. He proposes that prisons transform into factories with fences. This forces the accused to work for what he did, and the money they earn can go to the grieving families and even the families of the accused to provide for the lost source of income.
The Ethical Toll: When Society Bears the Burden
Not only does capital punishment do worse for the accused, but it also takes a significant toll on the involved beliefs and morals. Sometimes, people believe that killing a horrible criminal is for the best. A murderer is getting off the street and can never hurt anyone again. But it’s not the best option. For a start, no one, without concrete evidence, can be positive on the accused guilt. Many executed in the UK were later found innocent. This means that two people died for nothing, and two families, instead of one, now have to suffer the pain of innocent blood of a loved one being spilled. For another, those involved suffer. No one should ever earn a paycheck for killing someone.
This is not, however, the same as the military. The military fights for their rights, theirs and other countries. These people assist in executions. The corrections personnel suffer from PTSD more often than not. We shouldn’t put the mental safety of people trying to find a living below our revenge. Not only are the corrections personnel taking a toll, but so are the doctors. Doctors, under the Hippocratic Oath, are sworn to heal people. Even just by taking a stethoscope to the deceased chest to be sure of death, they are assisting in the execution. Not only them, but we as the people are the State. When the State sentences someone to death, so are the people.
The people may have no say in it, but they are assisting in the slaughter of another human. One of the most important reasons the death penalty is evil is because Jesus Himself speaks on the killing of one another. Some philosophers look at the Old Testament to prove that the death penalty is necessary to keep order and God’s presence in the world. However, as Christians now, we cannot forget why we are not going to hell, as we should, because of all that is said in the Old Testament. According to the Old Testament, we deserve to die. We are sinners.
However, when Jesus came, he took away our sins on the cross with him. He sacrificed himself so we, and all other sinners, could live. We cannot ignore that because that is why the guilty should not die at our hands. John 8:7 says, “…Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” None of us can say we are without sin, so we cannot “Cast a stone.”
Without capital punishment, even if you were innocent and convicted, you would never have to die. You would only have to go to jail, and even if it is for the rest of your life, you still do not have to die for a crime you did not commit. When living, you can go back on trial to prove your innocence. The death penalty is paradoxical, not the only choice, and disastrous to mental and spiritual health.
- Anderson, P. (2017). From Doorstep to Death Row: The Impact of Wrongful Convictions. New York: Scholarly Press.
- Blackwood, J. (2018). “The Media Spotlight: How Capital Punishment Gives Unwarranted Fame.” Journal of Criminal Justice and Public Policy.
- Carpenter, T. (2019). Fiscal Implications of Death Penalty vs. Life Imprisonment. Boston: Economics & Justice Publishing.
- Donovan, M. (2016). “A Comparative Study: Murder Rates in States with and without the Death Penalty.” Crime and Society Journal.