Maybe we should choose life

Published 12:10pm Saturday, January 8, 2011

For the first time in a decade, a jury recently recommended the death penalty for a citizen of Shelby County.

He was a man found guilty of the shooting death of his 11-year-old cousin.

It certainly seems to be the ultimate penalty for the ultimate crime.

However, I can’t help but wonder what our society gains in killing someone.

If murder is wrong for an individual, it seems that it is also wrong for the state.

Although we can all understand an individual’s desire for revenge, revenge does not seem like a reasonable goal for our government.

So what are the goals of the state in doling out punishment for crime? I see it as primarily two-fold. One seems to be to provide deterrents to engaging in criminal activity while another is to provide safe communities by removing those likely to engage in dangerous antisocial behavior from the rest of us.

Studies found on The Death Penalty Information Center website indicate that having the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder.

In fact, regions of the country in which there is the death penalty have a higher murder rate than those without the death penalty. When you think about the bizarre, highly charged situations in which most murders occur it’s easy to see that people wouldn’t be in a state of mind to stop and consider the consequences, no matter what they might be, before they act.

While taking someone’s life certainly removes him or her from society, this final solution allows no margin for error.

According to a report of the House Judiciary on Civil & Constitutional Rights, since 1973 more than 130 people on death row have been released due to their innocence. And the rate of exonerations appears to be increasing.

Since you can’t bring someone back to life, given that we make mistakes, life in prison without the possibility of parole seems to be a much more reasonable alternative for keeping those accused of the most heinous crimes away from society.

In fact, several studies, including a report issued by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, indicate that it is significantly cheaper to keep someone in prison for life than to go through the judicial process required to get the death penalty.

Something to think about as we send our first Shelby County resident in a decade to death row.

Kimberly Barrett is the vice president for student affairs at the University of Montevallo.

  • Peaceful

    While I believe an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and many people have been proven innocent after they have died with things like DNA, neither are likely to be the reason the death penalty will one day be abolished in the USA.

    The cost of the appeal process for people on death row is staggering. To sentence someone to life in prison is way less expensive. That massive monetary cost will bring about an end to the death penalty one day. We simply cannot afford it.

  • EWLJr

    Once executed, that person commits no further crimes. In jail many crimes are committed by inmates on other inmates, guards, visitors, etc. Escapes, pardons, paroles, and work releases put many prisoners into the public to commit further crimes.
    The death penalty is reserved for extreme cases and is rarely used, as you stated one in the past decade in our county.
    Look at the crime escalations in Mexico, which has no death penalty. Citizens have no protection. Citizens, police, and military are killed and beheaded daily. Do you want to drop America to that level?

  • fairygrandmother

    I choose life! I choose the life of this monster’s next victim!
    And, WE are not sending this monster to death row…HE flung himself onto the path when he killed this child!

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