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Why the Death Penalty Should Die


Why the Death Penalty Should Die

Renny Cushing

In hauntingly similar but unrelated crimes, separated by 23 years and a thousand miles, my father Robert Cushing and my brother-in-law Stephen McRedmond were murdered, both at their own houses. Family homes became crime scenes; horror displaced happiness; and homicide, as it always does, brought to my family pain for which there are no words.


Renny Cushing, thank you for a wonderfully well-thought out and eloquent assessment of the death penalty. Not many of us have been in the unthinkable position of having two murders in one family - and you have my most sincere sympathy. I have not, but I agree one hundred percent that the death penalty is not the answer.

I have two reasons for saying that. First, I am convinced that a lifetime in prison thinking about what put you there is a far greater deterrent than a quick exit.

The second is that the act of execution reduces the executors to the same level (or maybe lower) than those being executed. No one has yet devised a civilized way of putting another human being to death. Firing squad comes close, but it’s messy. The whole process is barbaric.

Lethal injection is a joke. And yet those of us who have assisted in the end of life procedures for beloved pets know that it is possible to euthanize even a horse in a way that the grieving owners are comfortable with.

So we are left with the very uncomfortable thought that the executioners aren’t looking for an easy way out. Which makes sense because, cruel and unusual punishment aside, for the death penalty to be an effective deterrent, it needs to be an unpleasant event. But that just re-inforces the barbaric aspect of execution.

The United States prides itself on being the greatest country the world has ever known. But it is not even top of the list of countries that execute the greatest number of their citizens. That honor goes to China, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The US comes next, with Pakistan, Yemen , North Korea, Vietnam and Libya rounding out the top ten.

Nuff said.


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aligatorhardt wrote:

‘The death penalty is not about bringing comfort to the families of those murdered, it is about protection of the rest of society from a dangerous killer…’

That assumes that the death sentence was imposed upon someone convicted of killing. Such is not necessarily so.

‘…Murders committed in a fit of passion are not carefully considered events…’

By definition, such crimes are not murder.

‘…Executions of multiple murderers are a proven way to stop the killing…’

Not if the executed turned out to be innocent of the crime, which has most certainly occurred many times.

‘… If we do not execute, then society is left with a burden of keeping these people for the rest of their life, in high security facilities that cost as much as 3 people’s lives at minimum wage level…’

Not unless the prisoner serves a life sentence.

‘…What is the value of keeping people housed and fed, clothed and cared for medically when they cannot be released into society to make any contributions?..’

Why can’t they?

‘…Making their last moments unpleasant is a stated goal…’

Stated by whom? That’s called “torture”, which enlightened societies abhor. Deterence and loss of freedom are the rationale by such societies for incarceration.

‘…We need to be careful about who get’s a death penalty to be sure it is deserved…’

Deserves execution? Isn’t that a rather absurd determination to make?


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