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The Death Penalty And My Conflict Over Legal Killing

Updated on March 16, 2013


The death penalty. It is a subject that I struggle with. Today, CNN and other mainstream news outlets are reporting that Gambia, a small country in South Africa, will execute all inmates on death row there by September. Hearing this news sent a shock wave through me. Is that justice? Have all of those prisoners exhausted their appeals? Wait a minute. I don't know anything about Gambia so I don't know the details of their judicial system. Why does it matter to me?

Well, it matters because I wonder what country will follow in Gambia's footsteps. Will it be the United States? Just the thought brings back all of my internal conflict on the subject of the death penalty. I don't know how I feel about one person legally taking the life of another. I am conflicted about the physicians who attend executions; the ones who have taken an oath to "do no harm". My faith in our judicial system has diminished over the years as more and more of the condemned were proven innocent by DNA tests.

For years I have argued that our system of justice in the United States only works for those who can afford it. It is ironic that the symbol of justice in our country is a set of scales because I am convinced it is not a balanced system. My stand on the death penalty is also unbalanced. Whenever I think that I am coming to terms with execution, the news reports another incident of wrongful conviction and I go back to square one.

My Arguments For and Against The Death Penalty

I agree that:

  • A person who kills more than one person in a witnessed massacre should die.
  • When DNA proves a child has been sexually violated, the perpetrator should die.
  • Anyone who commits murder that is witnessed or proven by DNA should die.

I don't agree that:

  • Evidence without DNA or witness is justification for the death penalty.
  • Crimes other than child rape or murder are justification for the death penalty.

There Are Things Worse Than Death

It's true. Death seems like the easy way out sometimes. Personally, I can think of nothing worse than to be imprisoned. I am a bit of a rebel who doesn't like to be told what to do. The structured, controlled life of prison would be much harder than death for someone like me.

For those who have committed a violent crime and there was no witness or scientific evidence to prove it, life in prison is an appropriate punishment, in my opinion. Just imagine if your life was reduced to:

  • being told what to wear
  • being told what and when to eat
  • being told when you could take a shower
  • being told how to wear your hair
  • missing your Mom or Dad's funeral
  • not being able to graze through your kitchen for munchies at will
  • never sleeping in the dark again
  • living in a 10 x 6 cage
  • being watched 24 hours a day
  • not being able to hold or exhibit love your spouse

This list could go on forever but any one of them is enough for me to never want to be imprisoned. And, I didn't even touch on the topics that we all know about prisoners such as prisoner rape, gang killings, and yes, even being beaten by prison guards.

50 Shades Of Gray

The issue of the death penalty is not black and white for me. It is at best, 50 shades of gray. I do not think anyone has the right to take the life of another human being and yet I acknowledge that there are some who do not deserve to live. Until I am convinced that our judicial system doesn't make mistakes, I cannot agree with executing someone based on what our courts consider "evidence". I suppose this makes me appear partially anti-death penalty. So be it.

There is another voice inside me however and it is outraged over spending taxpayer dollars to maintain a life that has taken a life, if it can be proven scientifically. I have no sympathy for those that kill in the name of hate, anger, or retribution. I have no sympathy for those that inflict harm on an innocent child. When these crimes can be proven, I am a strong advocate for the death penalty.

My struggle will not be resolved today. I may never stand on solid ground regarding the death penalty. But I suppose, that makes me human. Accepting death as a part of life, whether by natural causes, at the hand of a criminal, or by the hands of justice should make us all check our moral compass.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my work by clicking here.


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  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey MizB. All appeals were exhausted. The higher courts all tossed it back to the lower court for a final decision. The Supreme Court declared they would not rule on it because " the child is no longer a credible witness and it is impossible to determine which story the child told was true." Petition for Clemency - rejected. So a conviction stands even though the only testimony/witness has been proven to not be credible. Justice = just-us.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 5 years ago

    Yes, very interesting. I noticed that the last, but not final, story was in 2005. I wonder how it turned out? Under the U.S. justice system, if you are wrongly convicted or forced into a plea bargain, even with irrefutable evidence after the fact it is nearly impossible for a defendant to be exonerated. Today's "sexual predator lists" contain the name of many innocent people who were accused but not convicted or charges were dropped. I saw one list on the web that you had to pay from $100 to $500 to get your name removed if you were not convicted of the sex crime. That is criminal!

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    I have a close friend, a Seminole Indian from Oklahoma whose girlfriend's daughter made an allegation, recanted 3 months after conviction, passed a polygraph saying it never happened, but the court refused to overturn. He is currently serving 38 years and will die in prison. Here's a link you might find interesting.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 5 years ago

    Thanks, IRC, I know of three cases where the child or children lied and plea bargains were forced on innocent men in two of them. I don't know what happened in the 3rd case in which a man spanked his 16-year-old daughter for spending all night with her boyfriend. She filed sex abuse charges against him and the last time I heard, they were still pending. Her parents were divorced, so it may have been the mother's idea. He shouldn't have turned her across his knee and administered corporal punishment, but he was looking out for her welfare.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi MizB - I have missed you! You shed a nice light on the subject of the death penalty. I go around and around on the issue and end up back in the same place with a big question instead of an answer. Your statement regarding rape and children resonates big time. It is a view I had not considered. Thanks for opening my mind!

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 5 years ago

    I really never gave the death penalty much thought until I became a reporter. That is when I learned that there are too many people locked up in prisons who may be innocent. Note I say "may" because one or two in our state have fought and won freedom only to go kill again, but I know there are many incarcerated who have not committed the crime. Today we have overzealous prosecutors who want to make a name for themselves. I agree that "justice" is for the ones who can afford it. "Justice" that is bought is not justice. When the state executes an innocent person, there is no chance that person can ever gain his life back. So I guess in most cases, I don't believe in the death penalty. I don't believe in the death penalty in any kind of rape case because victim, even children do make mistakes in identity, and sometimes they lie to protect the real abuser, like a father.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you Alma. I appreciate your kind words nd your opinion.

  • Alma Cabase profile image

    Alma Cabase 5 years ago from Philippines

    Hi there!

    Death Penalty is definitely a big NO. Everyone deserves to live and that includes those who committed heinous crimes. In the end, only our Creator should decide life and death since He owns each of our lives. This hub is really interesting. I hope you create some more!

    Thank you for sharing this and God bless!



  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks for reading and for sharing your views nishlaverz. I understand how you feel. As I said, I struggle with the economics of it more than anything. It is a difficult issue. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

  • nishlaverz profile image

    nishlaverz 5 years ago from N.E England

    I do not agree with the death penalty. I believe that those who kill should be locked up for the rest of their lives without access to their families. This will allow them to feel the same as their victims family to a point.