Time to end death penalty

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - PERSPECTIV­E -

On March 5, Nathaniel Woods, an Alabama in­mate con­victed in the mur­ders of three po­lice of­fi­cers, was ex­e­cuted. Many ral­lied sup­port for him, as there was sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing his in­no­cence. This con­tro­ver­sial case calls back to the on­go­ing prob­lems with in­sti­tut­ing the death penalty in the United States. Thus, I would like to tell the pub­lic why the death penalty should be abol­ished.

One thing ev­ery­one can agree on re­gard­ing the death penalty is the fi­nal­ity of its na­ture. This alone high­lights a big moral is­sue: There is no op­por­tu­nity for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Cre­at­ing a jus­tice sys­tem in which crim­i­nals have the op­tion to ei­ther rot in jail or at­tempt to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety has more po­ten­tial pos­i­tive out­comes than a sys­tem with the death penalty.

Take the ex­am­ple of Stan­ley Wil­liams, founder of the Crips gang. While con­victed, he changed his way of life and, from prison, ed­u­cated chil­dren on the dan­gers of gangs.

He, how­ever, was still put to death in 2005. Just think of how many more peo­ple Wil­liams could have helped had he not been ex­e­cuted.

Sup­port­ers of the death penalty ar­gue that re­gard­less of what crim­i­nals do af­ter their con­vic­tion, they must still be pun­ished for their past ac­tions. This is a valid ar­gu­ment, but it fails to take into ac­count that most peo­ple con­sider what causes the most good for the most peo­ple to be the right thing. Ad­di­tion­ally, this ar­gu­ment is based on the idea of re­tribu­tivism, an idea that is greatly flawed once put into prac­tice.

Mak­ing mis­takes is one of our fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tics. Thus, why does it make sense for the in­sti­tu­tions we have cre­ated to be per­fect? The flaws in our hu­man­ity prevent us from ap­pro­pri­ately ap­ply­ing one of re­tribu­tivism’s main pil­lars: Only the guilty de­serve to be pun­ished.

There has been a num­ber of cases in which peo­ple were wrong­fully con­victed, more so in cases in­volv­ing de­fen­dants of color due to our coun­try’s racist roots. Peo­ple in­volved in tri­als can make mis­takes and have racial bi­ases, lead­ing to in­no­cent peo­ple be­ing wrong­fully killed.

The ac­cep­tance of one in­no­cent life lost makes the in­sti­tu­tion im­moral; thus, the death penalty is not morally per­mis­si­ble and should be abol­ished. — Al­berto Lopez, Chicago

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