If you’ve ever read Dead Man Walking, by Sister Helen Prejean, or even listened to the news a bit too much recently, you may be aware of some of the most horrendous and despicable things human beings are capable of. From shooting up a classroom full of kindergartners to terror and race-based hate crimes, sometimes it seems like we’re living in the most violent time in history, and we even start to feel like we’d just be standing by, letting all of this happen, if we don’t just give these monsters what they deserve. The thing is, that’s not what any of this is about.
Just because they lost their humanity, does not mean that we have to.
Just a few hours ago, Catholic Mobilizing tweeted this Bible verse and a letter to John Kasich to call for an end to the death penalty in Ohio:
It called Catholics, and religious of all faiths, to join their petition and to add their drive.google.com/openintention to their regular special prayers. But we don’t have to call for an end to the death penalty simply as a religious thing, because of course not everyone believes in God. And honestly, they don’t have to. There are countless reasons to oppose capital punishment for purely practical reasons.
My home state of Maryland, for instance, abolished the death penalty with a law signed by our former Governor Martin O’Malley in 2013
On May 2nd, 2013, Governor O’Malley signed that bill, outlawing capital punishment in the state, and on November 6th, 2015, he told CNN, “I am opposed to the death penalty … in our state it took us three times, but eventually we repealed the death penalty for a couple of reasons:
- It’s not a deterrent to violent crime,
- It can’t be administered fairly,
- And we know the things that actually work to deter violent crime because we reduced violent crime to 30 year lows.
“But there’s another part of this, and it is this: that the vast majority of the public executions of the world happen in the countries of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the People’s Republic of China, and North Korea. And I don’t believe that our children’s country, the United States of America, should be in the company of those other nations. We are better than this. It serves no deterrent value; we should do the things that work and stop the things that don’t work.”
That being said, there is another reason that we should try to abolish the death penalty in every state, and that is money. According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, by Jennifer McNenamin, the average capital punishment case costed the taxpayers, which will one day be you, 3 million dollars to try. That’s 1.9 million dollars more than a non-capital punishment case, “even after factoring in the long-term costs of incarcerating convicted killers not sentenced to death.” So at this point, when you start to think about how your own state treats the death penalty, you can think about how absurd it is that you would be expected to pay that much money for someone you’ve probably never even met before to be put to death. And even then, so many of the cases, which have already cost such ridiculously steep sums of money, are overturned ‒ a majority in Maryland until it was abolished ‒ are simply overturned before they can be carried out, resulting in a life sentence anyways. I’m sure a lot of you live in Virginia, which as you probably know still has the death penalty, and knowing this I’m sure you won’t want to pay all this money when you graduate.
But even still, something that people often forget that when people are put to death, the state doesn’t just magically kill them off with some fairy dust or black magic. Of course something like that sounds absolutely ridiculous to say out loud, but it’s worth repeating. And again, I’m not saying the people who have made it to death row are always perfect angels that don’t deserve what they’re getting by any means, but the thing is, even when they are guilty, someone has to inject the 3-drug cocktail, or pull the trigger, or in three states, slip the black hood over the convict’s head and fix the noose around his/her neck before releasing the trap door. So now you probably understand that there’s a reason they tend to arm all but one of the gunmen with blanks. Want to hear a debate on the death penalty and what solutions we can raise to get rid of it? Check out this podcast below.