The Death Penalty: An Eye For An Eye?

Rowan Cothliff

In our new era of society, where we can look back on the turbulent democracies and monarchies of the past and their exertion of power through the imminent threat of execution, is it possible that we can continue to justify the death sentences still made within the USA or in any country for that matter?

With the recent news of the first female, Lisa Montgomery, to be executed on federal death row in 67 years, discussion has yet again sparked up about the relevance that the death penalty still holds within the American justice system.

There is no denying that the murder committed by Montgomery was anything other than heinous. Her actions lead to the death of an expecting mother, from whom she stole the unborn baby who she tried to pass as her own. However, is an eye for an eye really the solution?

Personally, I would argue that it would make more sense to see a prisoner spend the rest of their life behind bars as punishment for their crimes, rather than officials committing the same act that the prisoner did to be behind bars in the first place. And, it is especially intriguing that a country with such strong religious values as America will allow themselves to essentially ‘play god’ in the execution of others.

Yet, the real irony of the situation is that the inmates on death row lead quite potentially the most luxurious lives that prison can offer to the incarcerated. So, while they do know that they shall be executed, they may spend as long as 30 years in the best case scenario of living behind bars.

The death penalty is not taken seriously within America’s justice systems

It is very difficult for someone to argue that the death penalty acts as a deterrent, especially when prisoners in for much smaller crimes are treated with less luxury. In fact, many have stated that there is no evidence at all that the death penalty acts as a deterrent.

The even more horrific truth is that the death penalty under Trump’s term as president has clearly been shown to be a vice of power. In the last couple of months of his presidency, Trump has issued a rush of federal executions, in the knowledge that the next President in line is against capital punishment.

After a 17 year break in federal executions, Trump is the issuer of 10 in the last year alone, marking him as the ‘bloodiest’ President in modern society. The President after a re-election should not be able to have this amount of agency over the lives of others to mark a blow in the battle of politics that constantly surges in America. This demonstrates to me that the death penalty is not taken seriously within America’s justice systems, if such actions like that of Trump’s can be allowed to occur.

It is easy to understand the argument that the families of the victims may want the perpetrator dead, but this is not always the case. There appears to be a digression in morality in ordering the death of another human as a justifiable consequence for killing another human. There is a part of that logic that doesn’t seem to sit right.

‘An eye for an eye’ is a motto of the past

Serving a life sentence without the privileges of death row would more than likely enable a murderer to feel more remorse for what they did, rather than be under the attitude that ‘they are going to kill me anyway, so why should I feel guilty?’.

Though some may find it hard to believe, some people that have committed murder can reform. Yes there are some that never will, but they are those that should serve a life sentence without parole. We should try and allow reformation for those that will contribute to society one day for the better good.

The hatred that is fuelled in the act of killing someone else should not be justified under any law system. ‘An eye for an eye’ is a motto of the past, America should learn to move forward.

Rowan Cothliff

Featured image courtesy of Jose Fontano on Unsplash. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image. 

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