It is not hard to imagine that as a criminal defense attorney, I am against capital punishment. But putting aside my career, as a human being I am VERY anti death penalty. The botched execution in Oklahoma is just one of the many reasons why. 

So why am I - a mother of 3 young children, a wife, a daughter and a sister - so against capital punishment? Well for starters, the fact of state sponsored killing disgusts me. I truly do not believe that a state has the right to kill one of its own - especially with such ceremony and premeditation. 

Is it Constitutional?

Let’s face it, capital punishment flies in the face of our constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Look at what happened in Oklahoma. Death row inmate Clayton Lockett died 40 minutes after the procedure began and several minutes after a doctor had called a halt to the proceedings because the medications were not working properly. Lockett was conscious, thrashing about, lifting his head and mumbling. 

If we as a society are so okay with this procedure, then why did state officials close the curtains on the Lockett proceedings after realizing that there was an issue? If not “cruel and unusual” then why not let the witnesses and the general public see exactly what goes on during an execution? 

A Deterrent - Really?

Secondly, the whole notion that comes from the pro- death side that capital punishment is used as a “deterrent” to help prevent crime is a joke. Do we honestly believe that an individual who commits a heinous crime is going to sit back and think, “hey the state just might kill me if I follow through with this?” No, of course not. 

According to the research done by the ACLU, “the vast majority of law enforcement professionals surveyed agree that capital punishment does not deter violent crime; a survey of police chiefs nationwide found they rank the death penalty lowest among ways to reduce violent crime. They ranked increasing the number of police officers, reducing drug abuse, and creating a better economy with more jobs higher than the death penalty as the best ways to reduce violence.  

The FBI has found the states with the death penalty have the highest murder rates.” So let’s put this whole notion of “deterring” violent crime aside and call it what it really is - revenge. And last I checked, our society as a whole frowns up the notion of “revenge” justice. 

"Equal" is a Subjective Term

Finally and probably of most importance to me is the fact that the death penalty is applied unjustly and unfairly. There is no such thing of “Equal Protection” when it comes to the death penalty in this country. Rather, it is applied randomly and discriminatorily. In our country, capital punishment is imposed disproportionately upon those whose victims are white, offenders who are people of color, and on those who are poor and uneducated and concentrated in certain geographic regions of the country. 

It's Impossible to be Certain

And the horrible fact remains, THERE ARE INNOCENT PEOPLE ON DEATH ROW and this reason alone should be enough to abolish state sponsored killing. Since 1973, there have been 144 exonerations of death row inmates. That is 144 innocent people that the state was willing to kill in the name of justice. Does that sit right with you? 

I have always been against the death penalty, but years ago I saw the off broadway play, “Exonerated” which solidified my belief. This play tells the chilling story of 6 innocent death row survivors in their own words through personal experiences, court records and media accounts. I encourage all who are pro-death penalty to read about Exonerated (or watch it as I believe it was made into a movie). 

On a final note, please know that my personal stance on capital punishment does not mean that I believe that all death row inmates are innocent, or that the crimes committed do not warrant harsh punishment because they do. The victims and families of terrible crimes deserve justice - I just do not believe that state sponsored killing is the answer. 

What’s your opinion? I encourage you to please leave a comment below. 

 

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