The debate concerning the death penalty in this country can get as heated as any other topic I’ve seen. You have people who are strongly against lethal punishments while some are strongly in favor of them.
I’ll be honest, I really don’t know which way I go with it. Some days I feel like I support the death penalty, some days I don’t. I don’t really believe there is a right or wrong answer because both sides of the argument have valid points. I tend to lean toward costs, and from what I’ve read (and as odd as it might sound) life in prison without the possibility of parole is much cheaper than the death penalty — considering all the appeals and what not death sentences often trigger.
Plus I have to consider those who have been executed who were in fact innocent, something that has happened a number of times. If someone is wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime and receives live in prison without parole, if evidence comes up later proving their innocence they can always be released. Yet if they were executed, there’s no going back from that.
Well, Wyoming lawmaker Bruce Burns has taken “factoring in costs” to a whole other level by suggesting that Wyoming utilize a firing squad to carry out executions. His reasoning is that Wyoming executes so few criminals (their last was in 1992) that it doesn’t make sense to build a functioning gas chamber to carry out executions.
Currently the one inmate on death row in Wyoming is challenging the constitutionality of lethal injections. Also the chemicals used to carry out lethal injections have become much harder for states to get.
Burns cites that Utah has allowed death row inmates the option to choose a firing squad to carry out their execution, so why not Wyoming? What he failed to mention, however, is that Utah is phasing out that option.
The way I look at it is this — a firing squad is archaic. While I kind of understand what he’s saying, I still can’t condone the mindset that determines the method of death for someone to be based on “what’s cheapest.”
If you want to debate the cost effectiveness of the death penalty vs. life in prison that’s one thing, but to determine how someone dies based on costs is just — well, it’s cruel.
Just because we might be dealing with monsters who’ve committed brutal acts of violence doesn’t mean we should act inhumanely.
Again, this is not my endorsement of the death penalty or a stance against it. What I oppose here is the thought that states should resort to firing squads to carry out executions simply because they would be more cost-effective.
If a state wants to offer the death penalty as a possible punishment, then that state needs to maintain the proper tools in order to properly carry out that punishment. If a state can’t do that, then that state needs to stop offering the death penalty as a possible punishment for capital murder.
Because “cost effectiveness” is no excuse to resort to draconian forms of punishment.
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