It’s election day, and California’s voters had more than one very important decision to make: two death penalty measures were on the ballot. For me, this was a monumental day, and the vote to abolish the state’s death penalty was the most important vote I have ever cast. Today is the day I officially stated that I would never trust the government with my life, and I’m not alone.
For the first time in 45 years, support for the death penalty has dropped below 50%. While this is a step in the right direction, that means that nearly half of Americans believe it is alright for the government to kill its own citizens.
Last week, I watched the latest Purge movie. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is set in a dystopian future which allows one night of murder and mayhem without any prosecutorial consequences. People kill, rape, and pillage at will. It serves to supposedly help the economy by eliminating a good portion of the bottom rung of the population. Of course, this idea seems preposterous, cognitive dissonance tells us that the government and American society would never allow a policy that takes American lives and disproportionately affects the citizens of lower socioeconomic standing…right?
Just like I find it preposterous to have to convince myself that this would never be allowed, I find it preposterous to try to convince myself that we should allow the government — the ever-expanding, omnipresent, and nearly omnipotent government— the power to kill us. Here are a few simple reasons we shouldn’t:
It Doesn’t Work
The death penalty seems to be an ineffective deterrent.
Our Hard-Earned Tax Dollars
Cases in which the death penalty is sought cost an approximate $1.26 million, cases in which it is not sought cost an approximate $740,000. Maintaining death row prisoners costs $90,000 more per year than keeping them in general population.
We. Should. Not. Play. God. Of course, this is a personal opinion — but there are many moral objections out there, religious or not.
And, giving the government the power to punish by death, is saying that they get to decide that someone is plain irredeemable and deciding it’s best to just kill them, instead of using the judicial system for what it was intended to do—lock them up to prevent them from doing any more harm, or— God forbid— rehabilitate them.
As aforementioned, for the first time in 45 years support for the death penalty has dropped below 50%.
Opposition is strongest among the younger age group of 18-29, with 59% of polled, and is strongest in racial groups with 63% of Black voters and 50% Hispanic opposition.
There you have it. Just a few reasons we should not allow the government the power of life and death over its citizens. Of course, a couple notable reasons are excluded for brevity, chief among them reign The Gift of Common Sense and The Innate Instinct of Human Survival.
Author: Cielo Villaseñor
Cielo has an eclectic background which includes politics, media relations, academia, and lots of writing.
From Capitol Hill to the university halls, she has kept constant her penchant for the art of authorship and engaging communication.
In her spare time, she likes to paint with acrylic, watch sci-fi series, and is currently struggling through the first stages of mastering the cello.