Monday, July 20, 2009

Standing Watch On Death Row

Thankfully, Canada has long since outlawed the Death Penalty.  When you have a justice system that routinely issues biased judgements based in race and class, how can we possibly issue the ultimate penalty?  This sentence is further complicated because the state is punishing by taking a life; the very same action that it is holding an inmate accountable for. There  are those that still subscribe to an “eye for an eye” philosophy but they should consider that on the death certificate of each executed person, homicide is listed as the cause of death. 

image The state of Texas currently leads in the number of executions.  CNN has a story about a reporter named Mike Graczyk, who holds the macabre title of witnessing the most state executions.  It was calculated that he has spent 40 hours of his life watching men and women die.  Since the death penalty was re-established in 1976, Graczyk has witnessed 315 out of a total of 439 executions.

Graczyk said he doesn't worry about the mental toll of watching so many deaths. His bosses with the AP have offered counseling. He's declined.

"To see someone go to sleep -- not to sound insensitive -- but the carnage at the murder scene is harder than what you see in the death house in Huntsville," he said.

He must need to tell himself that theses people are simply taking a nap in order to process the horror that he is witnessing.  While the photos at violent murder scenes must be horrific, I daresay witnessing the last breathe of a person who is intentionally being murdered must leave some sort of scar on the psyche.  Make no mistake about it, the death penalty is just as cold hearted and premeditated  as any murder.   The state does its best to sanitize its actions but that does not erase the fact that a living breathing human being having her/his life taken.

image The death penalty can never equal justice for the victim.  Their life will still be gone and their families will spend a lifetime mourning  their loss.  Some victims families have often reported depression after the death sentence is carried out because there is no place left to aim their hatred and their anger. A murderer owes a debt that they can never repay, even when it costs them their lives.

I could offer the statistical information about how executing a prisoner costs more than keeping them in prison until they expire naturally, or the fact that if you are poor you are more likely to be sentenced to death, however; I believe that the heart of the debate is how much one values life.  Yes, what these criminals did was terrible but life is priceless and should never be ended so easily.  We spit in the face of creation, every time we think we have the right to decide that someone with a beating heart does not deserve to live.