Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Should Death Penalty be Abolished? (Student Assignment)

An inspection of deadly woes
Imagine a tightly tied noose hanging in front of you...imagine putting your head inside it...imagine the cords tightly wrung around your neck, choking, suffocating you...imagine the chilly pangs of impending death moving through your veins & you see faces most beloved to you & are reminded that death is not a beholden stranger anymore...imagine life departing from your being & everything fades, fades away into tell me, would you submit your worst of enemies to this plight if it were in your hands to decide so? 
This, my reader, is why death penalty should be repealed...
The death penalty was never a part of reality to me till I read John Grisham’s ‘The Innocent Man’, which is a true story based on the life of Ronald Keith Williamson, of Oklahoma, who was convicted of rape & murder & was on the death row; only to be exonerated 11 years later based on DNA evidence that proved his innocence. He died 5 years later. Who shall account for the life of a man who lost his youth & life to a false conviction? More than 53 people have been wrongly put to death these last 10 years. The death penalty can be considered an option if our judicial & governing systems are free of errors but since they are far from it, corruption would always have the upper hand in the execution of justice.

The death penalty is simply inhuman & barbarian. In a nation which has seen the dawn of civilisation, which sadist would rejoice in a man’s death? If a state was to execute a man for murder, is not the state committing the same sin for which this man was convicted? It remains for us to see these people as humans & not monsters. It might be their social upbringing which has forced them to become what they are: trauma at the death of a loved one, starvation & blackmail by a terrorist organisation are just a few amongst many reasons. They also have wives, children, fathers & we ever think of the trauma they will have to undergo?  With the so called execution of justice, how many people are we slaughtering mentally? Can you imagine sitting in a room, night & day, counting the hours you have left to live? Can you imagine being asked what you would like to have for your last meal or what your last words to the world would be? People who are on Death Row are emotionally dead by the time of execution...
When we think of death penalty, how many of us actually know what happens behind the drapes? For execution by the electric chair, the convicted is made to smell cyanide pellets & there is a pole behind the chair on which he bangs his head with sudden jerks & probably dies of a broken neck while being electrocuted. Even while being killed with a lethal injection, the person experiences excruciating pain. We consider euthanasia cold blooded & inhuman. Are we not being hypocrites when we find it difficult to kill a human vegetable, when we smile at the execution of a fully functioning human?

To eliminate racial discrimination in the judiciary, the Congress in the U.S.A, passed the Civil Rights Act in 1875 but sadly, the death penalty encourages racial discrimination... If   ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee is not proof enough, John Grisham’s ‘A Time To Kill’, speaks of a black father who kills two white men who were acquitted, after raping his 10 year old daughter. Even now, in the U.S, many black men are killed for crimes they did not commit.

The death penalty is also a source of greater expense for the state. Criminals are kept on the Death Row for long & many expenses are incurred in the process. This money can be used in so many other productive ways. 

The most important reason of all, against the death penalty, is the religious sentiment that goes with it. In the 10 commandments, the Lord says ‘Thou shalt not kill’. It is God who gives us life & we have no right to take someone else’s away. If we do so, we are equating ourselves to God. We can take life the day we receive power to freely grant it. If God wanted us to give & take life as we wished, He would have put an ON/OFF button on us. What punishment should God give us, who crucified His only begotten Son, whom He sent for the redemption of our souls?
I would personally suggest life imprisonment as an alternative to the death penalty. It offers the convicted a chance to reconsider their life choices & be penitent regarding their sins. The state can also make use of them as human labour. They can be counselled to become better humans. There are so many stories of criminals who underwent a transformation in prison & became missionaries. Death penalty is finality; it is irreversible. Everyone deserves a second chance in life; nobody is perfect.

Also, surveys in Police Stations in California have found that the Death penalty is one of the most ineffective forms of punishment. In states with death penalty, incidents of homicide have tripled. Executing one man does no good because so many others are out there, unidentified. Many innocent men are executed while the real killers sit smiling in the shadows.

     The death penalty is immoral & unethical & should be abolished. To a certain extent, it has been done away with & our world has been none the worse for it. Life is a free gift to all & what God has freely gifted; let no man snatch away, save Him who gave it. Mother Teresa once said, “Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.” This is our motto for the hour. Let us strive to live & let others live!!

Jisha Anna Jose
[Word Count: 1000]

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