We Can Do Better – A Sad Day for the U.S.

Arkansas executed Ledell Lee on Thursday night after the Supreme Court voted to deny a stay request.

This post is not about Lee’s innocence or guilt; it’s about our inhumane use of the death penalty.

I don’t understand how a juror could ever vote to have someone executed; if you think taking another person’s life is such a horrible crime (and it certainly is), then how is what you are thinking about doing any different. Who gave you the right to make decisions on who should live and who should die?

I don’t understand how a prosecuting lawyer can stand in front of a camera and say, “This person deserves to die.” I don’t know how you can sleep at night, knowing that you are proactively arguing for the taking of another person’s life.

I don’t know how the people who carry out the execution have the stomach to do so. Don’t you realize you are taking the life of a fellow human being?

I don’t understand how five men in black robes, allegedly some of the best legal minds in our country, couldn’t stop to think beyond the law, and to think about what is right. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the three women on the Supreme Court have stated that they would have stayed the execution. I think men sometimes feel the need to act “tough on crime” as a sign of their masculinity. Please stop doing that, you’re talking about someone’s life.

How can we risk the chance that an innocent person is executed under the death penalty? A 2014 report by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that 1 in every 25 people given a death sentence are in fact innocent of the crime for which they are sentenced.

How does it make any sense that 18 states have abolished the death penalty, while 32 have not? Why should where a crime took place determine if a person is to be executed? Why should such a random event, such as where you were born (over which you had no control), have such potentially dire consequences?

Pennsylvania is not yet one of the states that have abolished the death penalty, but a recent poll found 54 percent of respondents preferred life in prison with no chance of parole or a chance of parole after at least 20 years or 40 years while 42 percent said the death penalty was their preferred sentence for convicted murderers.

And for the first time in almost half a century, support for the death penalty has dipped below 50 percent in the United States.

Again, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be punished when they commit a crime, I’m just saying that the death penalty should NEVER be one of the forms of punishment.

Many people in support of the death penalty claim that it helps to deter crime. However, the research on the issue seems to be mixed, with some studies showing a deterrent effect, while others show no impact. If there’s the slightest bit of doubt on the deterrent effect of the death penalty, it seems like such an argument can’t be used to support the death penalty.

Another argument made is the notion of an eye for an eye. If someone takes the life of another, then that person should die also. That sounds like the way things may have been done hundreds of years ago, but I like to think we’ve become a bit more enlightened over the years.

The death penalty has been abolished in the European Union and 101 countries around the world. It’s time for the U.S. to join these other nations in abolishing the death penalty.

How can we claim to be the leader of the civilized world when we still allow such a barbaric punishment?

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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