The Complexities of the Death Penalty

Do you agree or disagree in the death penalty? What are your reasons for this? The Death Penalty is a polarizing issue- similar to abortion, gay marriage, and other hot button issues. Most individuals feel fairly strongly about this issue and it is fairly divisive among party lines. Growing up in a conservative area, many of my family members and peers supported the death penalty and identified as Republican. When I moved to the cities, many of my new liberal friends violently opposed the death penalty .

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I was quite surprised when I found an article on conservative-leaning media outlet, Fox News, opposing the death penalty.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/04/21/why-capital-punishment-kills-best-parts-us-all.html

The article entitled “Why capital punishment kills the best parts of us all,” written by Dr. Keith Ablow, discusses the moral implications for opposing the death penalty. Traditionally, the main reasons for opposing  the death penalty are concerns innocent people are killed, a disproportionate number of people of non-whites are killed, and a disproportionate number of poor people are killed. However, Dr. Keith Ablow cites the main reason for opposing the death penalty is religious. “Is my opposition to capital punishment because of the fact that even a person who has committed almost unthinkable acts still might find God and prove that good can overcome evil?  I do believe that redemption is possible, no matter how heinous a person’s past. ” Essentially, Dr. Ablow proposes that enforcing the death penalty is negating the power of God to rehabilitate individuals.

This article puzzles me for a variety of reasons. I’m not quite sure I agree with his beliefs that every person is capable of rehabilitation. Some mental health issues are incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Personality disorders are often viewed as untreatable in the mental health community and there are limited evidence based practices available to treat even some of the symptoms. In regards to horrific criminals- individuals that have killed and raped dozens of people, it is difficult to imagine these individuals could be rehabilitated. Furthermore, by allowing this individual to live, doesn’t it impose or presume that his/her life is more valuable than the dozens he has taken away? I am not a religious person, but it is hard for me to believe that God would approve of these serial criminals and their actions. I personally believe that the death penalty should be used sparingly and only in extremely limited situations and circumstances.

The other point I found concerning regarding this article was not only his opinion on the death penalty but his rationalization for his viewpoint. The way he discussed the injustices of the death penalty to people of varying races and socioeconomic backgrounds as a secondary, not a chief reason for opposing the death penalty was appalling to me. The author of this article seems to disregard the logical reasons for opposing the death penalty in favor of more moral/religious reasons.

 

I stand behind my belief that the death penalty is the just action in certain circumstances to protect the majority and empower victims of heinous crimes. The separation of church and state is necessary for a diverse county such as ours, and I would urge others that the implications of this article are dangerous. If we allow our own perception of “God” to dictate our beliefs on the death penalty, it leads to a rabbit hole of conundrums- including who’s personal definition of God do we honor in these cases.

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