Capital Punishment: A Controversial Issue

Capital Punishment: A Controversial Issue

Why do so many people oppose the death penalty for racist murderer Dylann Roof?
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Recently, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that the Charleston church shooter will be facing the death penalty in court. One year ago, Dylann Roof opened fire at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people, all African-American. This was a racially motivated hate crime, as Roof was known to tout white supremacist views and targeted a black church. However, despite the horrors of this crime, there are some people who contest the choice to seek capital punishment for this case.

The death penalty has been a highly contested issue for a long time. While some U.S. states have outlawed it, 31 states remain where capital punishment is still legal. The most infamous of these states is Texas, which has seen the most executions since 1976. Shockingly, the death penalty was also legal for those under 18 years old until Roper v. Simmons in 2005.

Supporters of capital punishment often praise its intended deterrent effects. While execution remains the possible consequence of terrible crimes like homicide, it should prevent people from committing murders in the first place. Many supporters of the death penalty also agree that execution is often the most appropriate punishment for those who commit heinous crimes.

Those who oppose the death penalty may do so for ethical reasons, but other reasons are also cited. For example, throughout history, the majority of those who are sentenced to death row have been non-white, mostly African-American. They are also overwhelmingly low-income. These racial and wealth disparities lead people to believe that capital punishment discriminates based on those factors, and indeed, many studies have been done with affirming results. Court cases such as McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) have even brought these disparities to the judicial arena in an attempt to have them considered, but to no avail.

Another major reason for opposing the death penalty is, of course, the possibility of innocence. The criminal justice system is not perfect, and there have been numerous instances where people are exonerated while on death row or even in the years following their execution.

Furthermore, while the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that the death penalty is not considered to be cruel and unusual punishment, many people will argue that it does in fact violate the Eighth Amendment. The morality of different execution methods such as lethal injection, electrocution, hanging and even firing squad are often debated.

Around the world, capital punishment has even further implications as it is often the sentence for acts that should not be criminalized, like being gay. For reasons like this and the ones above, Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. In addition, over 100 countries have abolished the death penalty.

The ethics of capital punishment is a complex issue, and will likely remain debatable for a while. When considering Dylann Roof, it can get even more confusing — he was clearly a racist murderer, so the arguments about racial disparities are not applicable to him. There is no chance that he will later be found to be innocent. So why shouldn't the punishment reserved for the most heinous crime be applied to him?

In a 2013 article opposing the death penalty for Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, Ian Millhiser and Zack Beauchamp argue, "The moment we say one victim, or set of victims, must be avenged by death, we lose the ability to consistently limit the death penalty’s application to rare cases — and the uncertainty and arbitrariness that plagues capital sentencing generally comes flooding back."

What do you think?

Cover Image Credit: Popular Resistance

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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

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I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Dear Young Voices Of America, Stand Up, Speak Up, And Do Something

Our time is now.

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Dear young voices of America, I think we can both agree that we are sick of being told we are America's future while simultaneously being told our opinions don't matter. Now I personally do not listen to the people that tell me I'm better seen than heard; however, I know there are people that are a little timider when it comes to raising their voices. I am here to encourage you to be loud and speak up on topics that matter to you. There is no better time than the present to make your voice heard. Whether you are advocating for change in your school or the government, your opinion matters and is relevant.

We are the future of our country. How are we supposed to evoke change and reform if we can't have our voices heard? I call bullshit and I think it's time to take action. Even if you're the first or only person to advocate for your cause, be that person. Don't be afraid of anyone that tries to stand in your way. The only person that can stop you from speaking up for yourself and your cause is you. No matter how many nos you have to hear to get a yes or how many doors you have to knock on to get someone to open up, never give up. Never give up on your cause, never give up on yourself or the people you're representing, just don't do it. There is someone out there that supports you. Maybe they're just too shy to raise their voice too. Be encouraging and be supportive and get people to take a stand with you.

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about your future or to take action. But don't hesitate to say something. The sooner you start speaking up, the sooner you have people joining you and helping you, and the sooner you start to see and experience change. So get up, make that sign, write that letter, make that phone call, take part in that march, give that speech. Do whatever you feel fit to get your point across. Shout it from the rooftops, write it on your profile, send it in a letter, ignore everyone that tries to tell you to give up. Maybe they don't understand now, maybe they don't want to listen, maybe they're afraid to listen, but the more you talk about it and help them understand what exactly you are trying to get across, they will join you.

Even when it feels like you have nobody on your side but yourself, I am on your side. I will cheer you on, I will march with you hand in hand, I will write letters and make phone calls and help you find your voice. My life changed when I found my voice and yours will too.

So dear young voices of America, the time is now. Your time is now. Don't be afraid of the obstacles that you may have to face. Someone is out there waiting for you, waiting to grab your hand and march on with you. As Tarana Burke once said "Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something."

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