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The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished

Ashima Agrawal |
April 9, 2013 | 10:49 p.m. PDT


James Holmes may be sentenced to death. (David Seaton, Creative Commons)
James Holmes may be sentenced to death. (David Seaton, Creative Commons)
Last week, many news sources reported that James Holmes, the man responsible for the shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last year, could receive the death penalty. There are many people who support this possibility, and also many people who support the use of the death penalty in general. Then, there are those such as myself who think that any use of the death penalty is immoral.

Applying the death penalty to criminals lowers us to the level of the criminals over whom we claim moral superiority. Rather than letting a criminal rot in jail as punishment, thereby giving them time they can use to adequately reflect on their actions and potentially become a better person, putting a criminal to death simply reinforces the medieval maxim of "an eye for an eye." We should be past that.

Some may argue that ending the use of the death penalty would require more prison space for the criminals who would have been executed, and thereby cost more money. Yet, executing a criminal costs taxpayers more money than if they were sentenced to life in prison; they remain on death row for years as their lawyers work to appeal the case or the sentence.

Besides, no matter how cruel someone's actions, no one deserves to die for them. Even if a person was sentenced to death for killing multiple people, should they be forced to endure the same fate as their victims? If we kill people who kill other people, we create an unending cycle of killing. Wishing death on someone is possibly the worst thought a person could have, and if we wish death on a murderer, what makes us better than they? I want to believe that, as a society, we are better than that.

Hanging is no longer an option for carrying out the death penalty in most U.S. states, removed from the list for its immoraliity. Why stop there? Lethal injection should be removed as well, and the death penalty should be banned; they are both immoral, too. Not only that, but they are also sins, according to many religions which decree that it is a sin to kill, no matter whom one is killing and no matter what he or she has done. Killing a criminal is not an exception.


Reach Contributor Ashima Agrawal here.



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