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Nailing the Coffin of the Death Penalty
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Illinois is finally getting close to abolishing the death penalty, making it the 16th state to do so according to Amnesty International. Governor Quinn need only put his pen to paper in order to finally put an end to the practice. Quinn however, said he needed time to reflect and “follow his conscience.”

Reflection and considerable thought are quite important in such momentous decisions, but I sincerely hope his conscience points out the folly of choosing a career as an executioner. The debate regarding the pros and cons of capital punishment would continue to rage even if it were abolished tomorrow across the United States. Proponents would still argue that the practice acts as a deterrent and provides a sense of closure for victims while opponents would point out its infectivity in deterring crime, its barbarity and the skewed way in which it is applied to the accused.

One thing we seem to forget in the argument, however, is much simpler – asking ourselves who has the right to snuff out a life, regardless of the reason. We supposedly give that right over to the “authorities” and a jury of peers, but who then pays price when an innocent is put down for the crime of another? Who then, should “pay” for that crime and what should the appropriate punishment be? As far as the death penalty as a deterrent, what of the murderers and terrorists, who already have the will to die for their heinous actions? How does capital punishment deter them? If putting the guilty to death provides closure for their crimes, then why not have the victim flip the switch?

I feel my editor at Chicagoist said it best – “if we’re supposed to ostensibly be a democracy, then it’s blood on our hands every time someone is put to death.” At present, the United States stands together with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, North Korea and other countries we accuse regularly of human rights violations in its use of capital punishment. According to the official story, we’re fighting wars in two of those countries for freedom, for democracy. What kind of forward thinking, free and democratic society continues the practices of its purported enemies?

The longer we continue to put people to death, the longer we legitimize death and killing as options in a civilized society. If we supposedly value life as sacred, we should not be so hasty to dismiss the arguments against taking it in the name of justice.

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