Taking Sides: The Death Penalty SHOULD NOT be Abolished


Cartoonist: Charlotte Noller

Henry Melcher, Columnist

*Trigger Warning: Story discusses topics of rape and death*

The death penalty is something that no one wants to get to. We all can agree that we wish that these types of punishments do not ever need to be used, but sometimes they are needed. There are people in this world who commit the most unspeakable acts, and that is why we have this particular punishment for them.
Let’s take this case for example: Granville Richie, a man recently sentenced to the death penalty. Fellicia Williams was a nine year old girl who was placed into the watch of Richie by one of Williams’ relatives. Once they were left alone, Richie proceed to restrain and brutally rape Fellicia Williams. After raping her, Richie strangled her to death, stuffed her lifeless, naked body into a suitcase, where he then drove to a bridge and threw her naked body into the river, just for it to be discovered later. She was nine years old.
Prison is very expensive. Just think of how much an average American spends on their own food, rent, utilities etc. Now imagine adding top notch security personnel, equipment, support staff and other miscellaneous items. Michigan is a pretty average state when it comes to costs per prisoner. According to the Detroit Free Press, per year the Michigan taxpayer spends $36,106 per inmate. Let’s say a 22 year old commits a crime that lands them in prison for life, which would put them in prison for around 55 years. That comes out to $1.95 million, not including the prosecution expenses. A criminal trial involving capital punishment is definitely more expensive because of how the plaintiff can appeal; having more availability to prove innocence in order to make sure that all corners have been examined. This additional legal time can cost up to $400,000 on top of the average $25,000 per trial, according to Forbes. Depending on the state, the entire cost may be around $700,000 to $1,000,000, still considerably lower than the $1.95 million.
Admittedly, there are always people wrongly convicted; around two to 10 percent of inmates in the US are innocent. The percentage of death row inmates is four percent, which most of them will be exonerated due to the stringent legal proceedings of capital punishment cases. Additionally, there are already laws preventing people below a 70 IQ from being executed, as well as people with mental disabilities.
However, there is the morality of capital punishment. Killing another human under regular circumstances is a despicable thing to do but it all depends on the context. In war people are pretty much executed by opposing forces, but killing the enemy can be morally justified. For example, The United States government authorized the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Al-Qaeda. He orchestrated the largest terrorist attack the world has every seen, killing 2,996 Americans. People celebrated in the street when he died, and no question of ethics was raised. By committing horrible crimes, these people have withdrawn their own rights and have subjected themselves to the sword of justice. If you break into someone’s house, you are withdrawing your right to life and liberty by potentially being shot by the homeowner, or arrested by the police. The same applies here.