Sunday, 30 December 2007
Momentum against death penalty
Momentum against death penalty
The death penalty offers the false impression that life is sacred, by
taking it away.
Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, over 1,000 human
beings have been stripped of their lives. Proponents of capital punishment
claim that it brings closure to victims' families; it is cost effective
compared to life without parole, and that the Bible endorses a vengeful
These myths have misled the American public for nearly four centuries. As
of late, however, the Supreme Court has ruled favorably, numerous
governors have acted decisively, and the American public has altered its
perception on the effectiveness of capital punishment. Undoubtedly, the
penalty of death is on the brink of execution itself.
Capital punishment has been deeply woven into the fabric of our society.
Although crimes punishable by death have changed dramatically, one thing
remains the same. Namely, the death penalty continues to violate the
Eighth Amendment, which, in principle, protects Americans from "cruel and
unusual" punishment. In 1972, when the historic Furman decision was handed
down, public opinion toward capital punishment was at an all time low. The
need for vengeance and retribution had given way to compassion and
Similarly, recent findings of innocent men being sentenced to death have
altered public opinion as well.
To date, 126 men have been exonerated from death row -- 126 miscarriages
of justice. All too frequently, men and women have come too close to the
ultimate injustice, the state-sponsored murder of an innocent human being.
This has undoubtedly provoked religious communities, politicians, judges,
and the American public to reconsider the need for capital punishment.
A recent study in Wisconsin asked residents if they preferred the death
penalty over life without parole. Fifty-five percent choose life without
parole as the preferable method of punishment. The innocence movement has
undeniably become the leading tool toward abolition.
This month, the movement to abolish the death penalty has endured
unprecedented success. On Dec. 13, the New Jersey General Assembly passed
an abolition bill 44-36. The bill replaces the death penalty with life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole. New Jersey Gov. Jon S.
Corzine has signed the bill. The passage of this legislation marks the
beginning of the end -- the end of the penalty of death in this nation.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 36 states currently
have the death penalty as a legal form of punishment. However, Illinois
has a formal moratorium in place, New York has ruled the death penalty
unconstitutional, all states have effectively halted executions because of
lethal injection issues, and 10 other states recently introduced
legislation to abolish the death penalty. Out of the original 36 states
with capital punishment, none have the approval to proceed with
Boiling blood flows within the veins of each electric chair, reeking of
arrogant injustice and medieval barbarism. This same blood circulated
through the moral compass of Justice Thurgood Marshall's following attack
on the death penalty. In the Furman decision he states that the death
penalty "is excessive, unnecessary, and offensive to contemporary values."
The recent actions of numerous governors and decisions from countless
judges have certainly shown that contemporary values finally oppose
capital punishment. Not only will the lives of death row inmates be
spared; but soon, these condemned human beings will be integrated back
into the general prison population. This is when justice will finally be
served. In the end, compassion and redemption will overcome vengeance and
The abolition of capital punishment is inevitable.
Elliot R. Slosar----St. Charles
(source: Daily Herald)