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The Death Penalty, the Supreme Court… and the Onion

There has been a lot of press coverage surrounding the United States Supreme Court decision in which the court struck down the use of the death penalty in a child rape case (read the official decision here).

Now, I know this is a sticky topic, which is going to get on some people’s nerves, but I took some time to think about this after my cousin Richard let me know about this recent court decision. Even though it is very hard to argue in any way for child rapists, I ultimately agree with the majority opinion from the court’s 5-4 final decision.

Hear me out on this, I agree because of the underlying issues surrounding the case, not because I don’t think a child rapist should die a horrible death. Just because I think someone should be killed for committing a heinously crime, like raping a child, doesn’t mean that it should be the lawful to do so.

I do not believe in the merits of the death penalty anymore, so the idea of narrowing the scope of when it can be used is something that I agree with. The point was made by Justice Anthony Kennedy, that the penalty of death is not a proportional punishment for a crime which does not result in the death of the victim, which is another point I agree with.

I also do not believe having prisoners spend an average of more than 10 years on death row (which has been the case since 1995) is a humane way to treat a prisoner, it certainly doesn’t give the death penalty the perception of being a deterrent to violent crime with such a long time from conviction to execution either. I am not advocating leniency with these prisoners by releasing them or anything like that, I just believe that instead of sentencing them to death, sentence them instead to over 100 years in prison without bail or the possibility of parole.

One of the reasons behind these long stays on death row is no doubt the length of time the appeals process is for these inmates, but the right to appeal (and the advantages potentially available) is another reason for being against the death penalty. We are coming up with new technologies all the time and we hear of people being exonerated for crimes previously convicted of based on things like new DNA evidence. Once you put an inmate to death, there is no way to bring that prisoner back if it is later discovered that the person was wrongly accused, but if sentenced instead to spend their remaining days in prison, then an appeal could then be made at any point in the future to release the wrongly accused if new credible evidence surfaces.

I know there are many arguments both for and against the death penalty. Let me know what you think about this recent decision or just about the death penalty itself.

Thanks to DeathPenaltyInfo.org for helping me a bit with the facts here.


OK, now that I’ve probably thoroughly depressed you with this weighty topic, I need bring to you as a treat a very apropo to the above topic. The Onion just came out with another hilarious video (subscribe here) that just so happens to involve both the Supreme Court and the death penalty.

Check it out below:

June 26, 2008 12:17 am - Posted by | clips, DC, Law, podcasts, politics, technology, tv, Washington, Washington DC

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