Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

OPINION: The death penalty needs to be abolished

Grace Knight

The death penalty should be abolished. Now, this isn’t exactly the hottest take anyone could make, especially on our campus. However, I have noticed over the years that many people who I think hold this same mindset to me like to follow up the first statement with “but…” or “except for….”

People will add qualifiers to it along the lines of, “but should be kept in case of extreme circumstances” or “except for those who commit extremely heinous crimes.” I know this is somewhat of a strawman, but I have heard or seen enough people make arguments along these lines that I think it’s okay to generalize. And I am sure you have too.

The death penalty should be abolished. Full stop. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it.

As a Catholic, I do not think anyone has the right to kill. I know the religious argument isn’t the most tantalizing one for many people, but it is one that I have to make to show the origin of my thought.

Of course, there is the easy place to start with, that being the Ten Commandments and the whole “You shall not kill” rule. But there is also the Golden Rule, which is heavily associated with Christian philosophy: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That means I treat others with kindness, acceptance, and empathy, because that’s how I would like to be treated. And I don’t think that frame of mind involves wanting anyone to kill another.

Now, before I lose you completely, I am not just a religious fundamentalist. I am also practical. Not everyone is going to have the same foundation as me. Nor should they be forced to. The freedom of expression and establishment clauses exist for a reason.

Thankfully, the moral taboo of killing somebody is already codified into law to be a very bad thing. One of the worst felony offenses that could, ironically, get someone sentenced to death row. That raises another important question, though: does the government have the right to kill?

As you can probably guess by my very resolute headline, my answer is a simple “no.” The government, no matter how much red tape or how many inner mechanisms it has, is simply a large organization made up of people. And, as already discussed, I don’t think people have the right to kill.

Thankfully, as the decades have passed, capital punishment in its totality has been used less and less frequently. Some might use that fact to ask why even go through with federally abolishing the death penalty. However, only three months into this year, there have been three executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Last year, there were a total of 24.

Those numbers might not be that large, but it still represents the ability of the various state governments to commit legally-sanctioned killings. And that’s not even beginning to talk about the conditions the prisoners on death row deal with. For a majority of them, their time spent imprisoned is essentially solitary confinement – plus the additional caveat of having a potential execution looming over your head.

And when I say potential, I do mean potential. Many of those sentenced to capital punishment do have their sentences changed. They are either reduced to life sentence instead or have their convictions overturned entirely, thus ending their months to decades-long stint on death row.

There is a cost to their sentences being commuted or overturned too: the literal cost. According to the Cato Institute, spending for those on death row compared to those committed to life sentences can be as large as up to four times the cost. These overblown figures are the result of multiple stages within the appeals process for those sentenced to capital punishment.

The hypothetical results of these absurdly expensive imprisonments aren’t even apparent, either. The claim that the death penalty helps to deter crime is almost irrevocably false. In an article on deterrence, the Department of Justice states that not only does the death penalty not deter crime but neither does increasing the severity of punishment in general.

So, in essence, the various state governments which have not abolished capital punishment are spending upwards of millions of taxpayer dollars on a system that A) doesn’t even work for its intended purposes, and B) ends up with many of the convicted either being exonerated or moved to a lighter sentence. And that’s not even beginning to get into the amount of people found post-execution to have been possibly innocent.

The death penalty should be abolished. End of story. It is an archaic facet of the criminal “justice” system that should be removed from United States law.

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About the Contributor
Jacob L'Hommedieu
Jacob L'Hommedieu, Worldview Editor
Jacob L'Hommedieu is the Worldview Editor of The Maroon. He is a Senior Political Science Major with a Minor in Social Media Communications. Other than writing, he enjoys spending time with his friends and relaxing on the front porch with a cool glass of water.

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