Death penalty cruel, impractical, archaic

O-Death-Penalty Colby Patterson
Grey Leman

Grey Leman

It took 26 minutes to kill Dennis McGuire, using an untested lethal injection. Considering the Eighth Amendment clause against cruel and unusual punishment, the state of Ohio doesn’t have much of a defense against the lawsuit McGuire’s family filed as a result.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, criminal justice departments are allowed to use shifty practices that border torture for a punishment over half of Americans and nearly every other country in the Western Hemisphere are opposed to.

CNN reported that the European Union has begun to deny sales of drugs that are going to be used in lethal injections, which also limits them for medical uses. In response to the shortage, some states have tried to fake orders to American pharmacies concealing the drugs’ purpose, while others have been attempting different combinations. It takes the Food and Drug Administration over a year of testing to approve even the mildest of drugs, and a state government is allowing experimentation with an unwilling human subject, even after Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley, wrote it is unknown “how long it will take or what he will experience.”

The death penalty is inhumane. No member of the U.S. legal system and no jury has the authority to pass that kind of judgment on a person. Families of the victims of death row inmates may want to see that person meet the same fate as their loved ones, but this “eye for an eye” punishment does little to separate the law-abiding members of society from the criminals.

It is impossible to know the mental state or social pressures the accused was in at the time of the crime. Is it unreasonable to consider that the person may be suffering from an unidentified mental problem? To say that an individual deserves death is an absolutist way to look at this issue.

Death gives the defendant no chance for any sort of redemption and leaves no room for flaws in our far-from-flawless legal system. One hundred and thirty people on death row have been released for wrongful conviction since 1973. Giving even a few innocent people their lives is worth giving slightly more empathetic sentences.

A life’s sentence of incarceration protects society from future crimes, but there are no practical reasons for the death penalty. It does not benefit the state or taxpayers to execute an inmate. With all the appeals and sentencing hearings, understandable for those who are fighting for their lives, there is a large sum of money spent on lawyers and judges. Sarah Duensing, a junior in environmental and political science, wrote in a research essay: states that have an average capital punishment case in Texas costs as much as keeping a prisoner in a maximum security prison for 40 years. Furthermore, Kansas State Sen. Carolyn McGinn (R-Harvey County) estimated that $500,000 would be saved per case. The cost is further increased because of the extended stay on death row. In 2006 in California, inmates spent an average of almost 20 years on death row, at a cost of $90,000 more than other inmates, because of increased security and special conditions.

Duensing also points out that capital punishment isn’t much of a deterrent to crime, since criminals do not intend on being caught. The murder rate has been higher in death penalty states than those that have abolished it, and 88 percent of criminologists believe it doesn’t prevent violent crime.

Some may argue the death penalty is more humane than letting criminals rot in prison, but since four states allow euthanasia versus the 35 that still have the death penalty, the subject’s will does not seem to be of high priority.

Given such disdain from the EU and a system that has to scramble, cheat and improvise at the risk of those already receiving the ultimate punishment just to maintain its quota, the U.S. needs to put this archaic practice to rest.