Daily 49er

Death penalty should be enforced immediately or not at all

Kirsti Correa

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In the lyrics to his 1997 song “16 On Death Row” Tupac Shakur explained the fate and struggle someone being subjected to drug warfare and violence faces. The fact that Tupac died Sept. 1996 is another story. Although the constitution now bars the sentencing of minors to death, this punishment is a serious issue.

It is a matter of life and death.

Viva Leroy Nash, the oldest death row inmate in America died of natural causes on Feb. 12 of this year. He was 94.

In 1983, Nash was sentenced to death, but because of his death the sentence was, obviously, never carried out.

Mandating death as a punishment for certain criminals seems pointless when it never actually happens. It is like when your parents constantly threaten you to stop making funny faces, otherwise one day that face will be permanently stuck. We all knew it would never actually happen, but the possibility that it could, instilled fear in our heads.

A major argument for the death penalty is the concept of justice. Almost everyone loves the classic good vs. evil theme, especially when it happens in real life. In some cases, though, justice is mistaken for revenge.

Those in the opposition of the death penalty still believe justice will be served through imprisonment.

There is also the fact that someone could actually be innocent of a crime. Banning the death penalty would, in effect, spare their lives.

In California, there are roughly 700 people on death row and only 13 executions have been carried out since 1976. In California’s history, there has been three occasions where a person was found not guilty and freed from the death penalty.

With that said, prison is not an effective scare tactic anymore. Teardrop tattoos, signifying the amount of “hard time” a person has served, have become another way criminals can prove how “hard” they are.

A majority of people grow up believing in some sort of karma, or an idea that in the end, a person will get what they deserve. If a person has done nothing but good — throughout their lives — they should be able to reap the benefits. However, when there is a person who has done nothing but wrong, they should not be let off the hook so easily.

Not every criminal should be given the death penalty, but the severity of their crime and how big of a threat they are to society should determine their level of punishment.

Either the death penalty needs to be enforced quickly after sentencing or it needs to be erased entirely.

It is ridiculous to sentence a person to a life of imprisonment when it, in effect, has become exactly the same as ending up on death row.

Albert Einstein once said, “If people are only good because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

Kirsti Correa is a freshmen journalism and an assitant editor for the Daily 49er.

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