Death penalty should be abolished
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