Commentary: My View On The Death Penalty

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Commentary: My View On The Death Penalty

Electric chair in the dark room, 3D rendering

Electric chair in the dark room, 3D rendering

alexlmx

Electric chair in the dark room, 3D rendering

alexlmx

alexlmx

Electric chair in the dark room, 3D rendering

Dominique Trujillo, Author

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When people think about the death penalty, they also think about the convicted person who suffers for the crimes they committed. But some people worry about whether that person actually committed the crime because there have been times when the person being executed was really innocent. I believe the death penalty should exist, but there needs to be evidence so strong that it can’t be denied or disputed in order to put a criminal to death.

New Mexico as of now is against the death penalty, along with 19 other states. Thirty states actively use the death penalty. Three states have governor-imposed moratoriums, or a temporary prohibition of the activity.

Most people are on death row for years, waiting for their appeals to make their way through the courts or for their execution day to arrive.  

There are many ways to be sentenced to death row for crimes related to murder (of varying degrees) in the following scenarios:

  • smuggling of aliens
  • drive-by shooting
  • in an airport serving international civil aviation
  • of immediate family of law enforcement officials
  • of a member of Congress or a Supreme Court Justice
  • by use of firearm during a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime
  • genocide
  • of a federal judge
  • of a federal prisoner
  • during kidnapping
  • during hostage taking
  • of a witness with testimony, a crime victim, or an informant
  • assassination or kidnapping resulting in the death of the President or Vice President
  • for hire
  • involvement in racketeering
  • bank robbery or kidnapping
  • carjacking
  • rape or child molestation
  • sexual exploitation of children
  • terrorism of any kind
  • by use of a weapon of a mass destruction
  • torture

Other crimes can also land people on death row include treason, death resulting from an aircraft hijacking, willful wrecking of a train resulting in death, and espionage.

One thing that shocks many people is that serial rapists cannot be given the death penalty unless murder is involved.

In past years some methods of execution were the electric chair, lethal gas, firing squad, and hanging. But most states have gotten rid of those methods in favor of lethal Injection.

Below are some examples of people who have been on death row.

Manuel Valle killed a police officer when he was 27 years old. He was given the death penalty and it wasn’t until he was 61 years old that he was actually put to death.

Eric Scott Branch was sentenced to death for raping and killing a 21-year-old woman. He spent 24 years on death row until he was put to death in 1993.  

Ted Bundy was famous for his crimes all around the world. He was a serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar and necrophile. He admitted to at least 30 homicides of women. He even escaped prison two times. He was 42 years old when he died in the electric chair in 1989 after spending 10 years on death row. While he was being executed, people outside were cheering, “Burn, Bundy burn!”

So why does it take so long for the people on death row to pay for their crimes? More evidence is often found, so the court delays the date of death. Sometimes, prisoners will have lengthy or numerous appeals.

But innocent people have died on death row and then been found not guilty after the execution. For example, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for setting a fire that killed his three kids in 2004. Shortly after, evidence showed that it was accidental.

Some people get lucky and are released before it gets that far. In 1992 in the United States, ten death-row prisoners were let go because they were found innocent.

I believe there needs to be strong evidence or even DNA samples making sure the correct person is being blamed, not just “he said/she said” testimony. This will decrease cases where innocent people die.  

I believe that New Mexico should have the death penalty just in case a big issue ever happens here. There could be better punishment than just staying in prison. My thought about murderers and serial rapists just staying in prison is that they will get used to it, find friends, and live their lives in there. It’s better to take their life away from them just like they did to somebody else. Even if a victim wasn’t killed, they’ll never be the same after what they experienced.

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