Letter: The insanity of the death penalty

Friday, April 27, 2018

If the death penalty deters crime, then why does crime still exist? The assumption that the death penalty deters crime relies on the belief that people always act rationally. That is not true.

Crimes punishable by death are based on passion and emotion, not reason. They do not result from a conscious cost-benefit analysis where a person considers the fact that if they commit a certain act, they could be put to death. People do not change the aim of their gun because they want a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

We are disgusted at crimes punishable by death. They are appalling, animalistic and atrocious. If taking a life is seen this way, why is it different when the person is strapped to a gurney or electric chair? The answer to an unreasonable act need not be unreasonable.

Humanity has spent centuries searching for “humane” ways to conduct executions. Ones that appear painless, so society need not be uncomfortable with the fact that the state is killing a human being. Executions are done at night because they are appalling. They are not conducted on Sundays because the state does not want to kill on the Sabbath. The death penalty will never be humane, tasteful or effective.

It’s been thousands of years and the death penalty has yet to deter crime. If it’s insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, then let’s bring sanity to our justice system and repeal the death penalty.