Death penalty should be abol­ished

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - NEWS -

To the Edi­tor:

Sis­ter He­len Pre­jean, au­thor of “Dead Man Walk­ing” and op­po­nent of the death penalty, has spo­ken at sev­eral events in the Philadel­phia area over the past few weeks. I was lucky enough to at­tend a talk about her ex­pe­ri­ences of serv­ing as a spir­i­tual ad­viser to two death row in­mates be­fore their ex­e­cu­tions. Ul­ti­mately, Sis­ter He­len’s talks are about the trauma caused by Amer­ica’s death penalty sys­tem.

Dur­ing one of her talks, she said some­thing that has stuck with me: “Most peo­ple have never thought about the death penalty be­cause it doesn’t touch their daily lives.” This state­ment is true.

But the death penalty does have a di­rect im­pact on some­one’s life. Sis­ter He­len spoke about wit­ness­ing an ex­e­cu­tion and the phys­i­cal toll that it took on her. She also spoke about ef­fects that ex­e­cu­tions have on the lives of prison guards. These prison guards, who are do­ing their jobs, are hav­ing to put peo­ple to death by or­der of the state. They have to live with the trauma of killing a per­son, in the name of the law, on their con­science for the rest of their days.

We con­tinue to sen­tence peo­ple to die without un­der­stand­ing the full weight of this de­ci­sion on the lives of those in­volved. How­ever, we con­tinue to be bliss­fully ig­no­rant to the ef­fects that the death penalty has be­cause it doesn’t di­rectly in­volve us.

I stand with Sis­ter He­len and agree that the death penalty should be abol­ished be­cause it should not in­volve any­one.

— Syd­ney Smith, Glen­side

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