A life for a life?

Posted by Sheila Michell on November 20th, 2008

When one reads, as I did a few days ago, about a terrible crime: in this case, the unprovoked murder of a young girl, which took place twenty seven years ago [see article], one's initial instinctive response is quite likely to be "that man deserves to die".

And yet when one reflects further on the issue, what would the death of the murderer achieve? Some would argue that the victim's family would see justice done. But what sort of justice would that be? Many victims of crime have realized that a life for a life is no way to ease their pain. The life of their loved one will never be restored. Some of those who have lost people to violence are outspoken against the death penalty.

And then I read further into the article I discovered that the person who committed the crime had already been recognized as a sociopath and had served time in a mental facility. Why had he ever been let out? Perhaps society had failed him and itself with an inadequate mental health care system.

So what should society do in such a situation? In my opinion, a society who calculatedly murders anyone, let alone someone who is severely mentally ill, is only perpetuating the violence they seek to punish.

Let us also reflect on the practical implications of a death penalty in California today. This case has lingered on for twenty seven years with no resolution, which has cost the state millions of dollars, and forced the victims' family to keep waiting for an execution that may never happen. If there were no death penalty, the situation would have been resolved years ago with a sentence of life without parole. The murderer would die in prison without all the added cost of death penalty appeals and all of the media attention.

As it is now, he is more likely to die in prison than by execution. This less violent solution would free up resources to be spent on improved mental health care services or to support of victims of violent crime. 

Posted in Blog


Add a Comment
  1. Comment by B. S, Sep 21st, 2009 9:45am

    Killing is of course bad and anyone who takes a life is doing wrong. But how can we guaranty a safe society if we do not convict and get rid of the people who reak havic. A life for a life does create and equilibrium of worng doing, there is no torture in the death penalty it simply takes the life. We could even go so far as to do everything to the killer that they had done to the victim.

  2. Comment by Kate, Feb 9th, 2009 11:21am

    I think the death penalty is a good thing to keep around. A life for a life right. Killers need to learn that its not ok to do bad things. We can't just throw them in jail and expect them to learn their lesson. They made thier choices, they knew the risks, and they should pay for the pain they cause. Even if it means in blood. A LIFE FOR A LIFE.

  3. Comment by Victor, Feb 4th, 2009 9:01pm

    To me, its very sad to see how many people in this country still support the death penalty when it is not a deterrent, there is an innocence problem associated with it, its unethical, and inhumane.

    I recently watched again the horror movie "Saw II" and thought to myself that if Jigsaw only killed killers, he would most definitely still be considered an evil monster. Yet, those who support the death penalty are like Jigsaw or worse since they, unlike Jigsaw, don't let these criminals a second chance to at least repent.


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