This I Believe

Elizabeth - Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Entered on November 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the basic right to human life.

Christians point to the Bible and say “Thou shalt not kill.” But many of these same people are right there at the front of a rejoicing mob when a murderer is executed. How can they mourn the loss of one life and yet cheer the taking of another?

This is not to say murderers do not deserve punishment. But two wrongs can never make a right. How can anyone be so hypocritical as to punish a criminal by committing the very same crime he did?

I believe in the power of forgiveness. It is human to err, to forgive divine. However hard it may be, we must rise above justifying murder. Legal or not, one atrocity cannot excuse another.

I believe no parent should ever have to bear the loss of a child. One mother losing her child is one too many. Don’t make it two. When criminals are executed, they are not the only ones punished. Their innocent families suffer also. As the deaths multiply, the pain increases exponentially.

I believe the death penalty is inherently unfair because it is applied randomly. About 22,000 homicides occur every year in the U.S., but only about 150 people are sentenced to death.

Wealth is also a huge factor. Those who can afford a lawyer are likely to easily avoid execution.

The justice system is far from perfect. Innocent people do end up in jail. In California alone at least six men who were sentenced to death had their convictions overturned. But how many have been executed before they could be proven innocent?

I believe the death penalty is a waste of money. Because of the lengthy court process capital punishment requires, it costs far more to execute a prisoner than to house him for life. A 2005 study by the Los Angeles Times found the California system cost taxpayers $114 million each year about and beyond the costs of housing them.

The 11 executions carried out over a period of 27 years in California have cost more than $250 million dollars each – not including the money spent on housing the prisoners until their execution dates.

I believe there are better alternative. A sentence of life without parole takes away the privilege to freedom, but not the right to life.

I hope the U.S. will join the majority of countries in the world in recognizing the basic human right to life and abolish the death penalty.