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Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?

W. Scott Cole

Posted on March 29, 2018 11:58

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This piece on criminal justice reform concerns abolishment of the death penalty. It favors abolishment from a different perspective that I believe will make people think about whether or not execution is the punishment most supporters think it is.

It is a polarizing question and there are arguments on both sides. Should the government murder those who commit murder? Make no mistake about it, it is murder. The cause of death on the death certificate of every executed criminal is listed as “Homicide”.    

I am in favor of abolishing the death penalty, but my reasoning for it seems to be a line that has never been advanced before. Life in prison is punishment, but it is not life. It is, at best, existence. Executing the convicted murderer is the easy way out, for both the state and the murderer. If you really want to punish someone, make them spend the rest of their lives in prison. Make newspapers available to them and give them a television so they can read and see what is happening in the world. Then make sure they know that they will never again be a part of that world. They will never interact with it or the people in it again. They can only ever be on the outside looking in. That is punishment.

Make them eat prison food. On paper, prison food sounds good and should be healthy. In practice, it is mostly carbs and starches and for the most part, it is very bland. Even though they can eat free or at reduced prices, few prison guards will eat prison food. It is that bad. Make them aware that they will never get better food. That is punishment.

But prison inmates have rights, you say? Yes, they do. One right is to have contact with their families, both in writing and through visits, which is something the victim does not have. It doesn’t take long for both letters and visits to turn into punishment, too. The letters tell about what is going on in the lives of the family of the prison inmate. In visits, he gets to hear all that news first hand. Again, he is on the outside looking in. He will never be a part of his family in a meaningful way again. Ask any prison inmate and he will tell you that there is nothing worse in the world than to see family leave after a visit and go back to a life they will never know again. Many inmates tell their family to stop writing and stop visiting for that very reason. It gets to be too much for them to have that reality slap them in the face again and again.

The person spending the rest of his life in prison will see his parents pass away. He cannot go to the funeral. Other family members cannot give him comfort, nor can he offer them comfort. He has to bear that grief alone. That is punishment.

Abolish the death penalty. Make those who would normally be executed spend the rest of their days in prison. There can be no worse punishment. Even execution pales in comparison.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on March 29, 2018 11:58

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Source: WashPost
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