– by Marty Ryan
There are seven primary reasons why the death penalty is an outmoded method of punishment.
The death penalty is:
- Discriminatory in its application
- More costly than life in prison without the possibility of parole
- Cruel and unusual punishment
- Susceptible to mistakes
- Not a deterrent
- Contrary to most mainstream religious beliefs
The death penalty is a gruesome means of punishment that has outlived its place in today’s jurisprudence. Iranians still stone people to death in public; Saudi Arabians continue to practice beheading by the sword; and some jurisdictions within the United States use hydrogen cyanide gas to choke the defendant to death.
No matter what method is used, government killing of people is not humane. No more than 150 years ago hanging, gutting, and quartering in the town square was abolished as a punishment in England. The process of executing human beings has evolved over the centuries. However, the final chapter is always the same – the defendant dies. Does it make any difference how the government carries out this barbaric means of punishment? It’s interesting to note that governments that practiced drawing and quartering as a means of punishment did not execute women in that manner. Women were burned at the stake.
Iowa’s Governor Vilsack once said that Iowa has a death penalty – it’s the sentence of prison for the rest of an individual’s natural life on earth, without parole. Iowa has over 600 lifers in the Corrections system today. California has close to 700 inmates on death row, and California has executed 13 inmates in the past 30 years.
The growing number of inmates living on death row awaiting execution is another reason why this manner of punishment is beyond rationale. It’s impractical to believe that all will die according to their sentence. Some victims and victim advocates argue that the death penalty provides closure. What it does cause is the grief of another family, one that is usually below the radar screen of public sympathy.
America needs a system of punishment that homicide victims’ families can rely upon to swiftly mete out justice, find closure, and prevent the financial and emotional strain of going through the frustrating appeals process associated with capital cases. Society can offer better alternatives, and Iowa has it – committing “the defendant into the custody of the director of the Iowa department of corrections for the rest of the defendant’s life.”
Copyright © 2010 Fawkes-Lee & Ryan. All rights reserved.