On the death penalty

The Laissez-faire of death

Capital punishment, on paper, is an inequitable misinterpretation of the morals and principles upon which this country was founded. Here’s what I think:

In the case that the death penalty is a cost-effective, space-saving alternative to subjecting a criminal to solitary confinement or any mental institution akin to that degree of long-term imprisonment, in opposition of preserving another human’s fate for the purpose of abandoning necessity over wasting precious time and money by granting someone the rest of their doomed life, then it should be abolished.

No one should be granted the power to determine whether someone else should be subjugated to death versus upheld with life, no matter the cause. Furthermore, no one should be legally permitted to carry out any process of killing another human being, ironically determined by some ill corner of democracy. Yes, while our government isn’t a pure democracy, institutionalized death hinders one of the foundational virtues of this country — freedom. On the other hand, imprisonment doesn’t necessarily hinder freedom, rather it limits it in the name of justice. We all join the dead at nature’s whim, so why not just leave it at that?

In other words, the government’s role is not to play god when other punishments are still on par for debate.

The eighth amendment is in place to protect citizens against cruel and unusual punishment. Yet the most basic objective of the death penalty is the most cruel thing a human can do: take the life of another. Shall we do away with this amendment, altogether? The history of the United States Supreme Court has in fact questioned the legitimacy of the eighth amendment. Any alternative to the death penalty can be rightfully ‘cruel’ without contradicting our nation’s own bill of rights. Criminals do have a price to pay, and there is no price on death.

Now consider this: law and order shouldn’t have a hand in the institution of death unless a clear fight for life is the cause of someone’s imminent mortality. For example, we all know what ensues after the phrase “shots fired.” But see how that isn’t a sentencing? It’s a situation of self-defense — and that’s a different conversation.

“Law” and “order” would suggest ridding of crime from society by secluding it behind impenetrable walls and doing nothing more. After all, death is a guaranteed release — it may even be seen as mulligan by the huge screw-ups. That shouldn’t be allowed. Punishment serves to teach, warn, and exemplify illegal and immoral behavior — and if not that, to dutifully punish.

In the case that the death penalty serves to put an end to someone’s life because of the atrocities that person has committed, one could argue that it is served cold, just and irrevocable. In the eyes of a prosecutor, a judge, a jury or a victim, a death sentence can serve in a morally just fashion. The verdict, either way, is determined by a ruling body so overpowering, yet somehow also the very definition of trustworthy.

Democracy cannot contradict itself, or the very idea of it disappears. So how is the debate settled? It’s not. Some agree with it; some hate it. The ethical disparity of opposing views can get very complicated, and that’s why the death penalty has remained largely untouched. The ultimate punishment, no matter what, will always be death. But that doesn’t mean nature needs any help making that decision.