I support Proposition 34 but am not necessarily opposed to the idea of putting someone to death or allowing them to die. Before I explain my reasoning, let me give some background information on Proposition 34 and the death penalty. Proposition 34 is on the ballot this year in California. This proposition proposes eliminating the death penalty and replacing it with life imprisonment without parole.
People typically oppose the death penalty by arguing that it is morally wrong and that the processes involved in carrying it out ironically cost more, on average, than keeping a criminal alive during a life sentence. Proposition 34 is no exception and rightfully claims that it will save millions of dollars which can then be invested in law enforcement. Another issue with the death penalty is that innocent men have been put to death. Forensic technology has saved and will continue to save innocent men but has not entirely solved the issue. People who do support the death penalty usually argue that someone who committed such heinous crimes deserves death, that the death penalty gives closure to the friends and family of the victims, and that increasing the number of executions will slow the rate of increase in prison overcrowding.
I agree that the death penalty is flawed in its implementation but I support it in principle and believe having good morals and supporting the death penalty are not mutually exclusive. I think those who currently oppose it may see its potential if they consider another perspective. First, let us imagine that the justice system has advanced to the point where carrying out the death penalty saves money compared to issuing a life sentence and where innocent men being put to death is almost a non-issue. I think this can be accomplished if the processes involving capital punishment become more efficient. It is absurd that putting someone to death costs more than feeding them for a lifetime and indicates how flawed and excessive processes surrounding the death penalty are. Second, let us take the hypothetical case of a rightfully convicted person who has committed mass murders or another type of crime that would earn a life sentence and/or death sentence. In this case, I believe a life sentence without parole is far crueler than a death sentence.
When people are sentenced to life in prison without parole, lawyers and people who were close to the victims of the crime will say things like, "He should rot in jail and suffer for the rest of his life for what he's done." Indeed, criminals sentenced to life in prison without parole are doomed to a fate I believe is worth than death. They are forced to rot and suffer in prison with no hope of restarting their life. Death would essentially spare them from this fate. It seems unlikely that criminals sentenced to life would choose death over life in prison. However, one route is to consider giving criminals sentenced to life without parole the option of choosing between life in prison and capital punishment provided that capital punishment becomes more cost efficient. Another perspective is to consider that life in prison is a much harsher fate than death and that perhaps sentencing one to death is not an indication of poor morals or a lack of empathy. I will continue to support legislation such as Prop 34 until the processes surrounding the death penalty improve. My wish is simply that people take new perspectives on the moral aspects of capital punishment and consider improving the death penalty rather than wiping it out.
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