Tuesday, March 2, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 104


Whitlock on Tom DeLay

Backstrom on Stress

Staff Editorial

Letters to the Editor

Editorial Cartoon


About the Cougar

The death penalty isn't a deterrent

Patrick Dennis
Guest Columnist

The death penalty is wrong. I wish I could stop there, but I don't think that anyone else agrees with me. To start off, the murderers of James Byrd Jr. should not die. These men were sick individuals who saw his death as a promotion of a white-supremacist organization.

Killing these three men, however, gives to other racists something more important in exchange for these lives: It turns them into martyrs. King stated that he died fighting for what he thought was right. We don't need people looking up to this man as a role model.

Furthermore, the death penalty has accomplished nothing. Studies show that, since the death penalty was reinstated, crime rates have not plummeted. Maybe, someday, we will wake up and invest our money in education rather than prison cells, so that we may initially teach our children the difference between right and wrong.

Third, the death penalty is wrong because it turns us into killers. How can we prohibit murder and then, ourselves, commit it? I remember from a young age that two wrongs never make a right. My mother used to say that to my brother and I, about a million times, when we would cry, "he hit me first."

Some choose to quote the Bible in perverse ways to support the death penalty. Yes, it does say "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Those of you who did not drop out of Sunday school know that, in the New Testament, the language was changed to "love one another" and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Furthermore, the Bible also states "Thou shall not kill." I don't think any spin doctor can touch that.

Next, isn't killing someone an easier lot than life for them? Isn't it harder to live with your sins, rather than take the easy way out through murder or suicide?

People claim that Mr. King can run a prison gang and have connections to the outside. This could be stopped very easily. All we have to do is cut his lines of communication. He is locked up in prison, and we should be able to control him.

Finally, I am sickened by people who say that we need to kill them quickly. They say that the average death row inmate spends over eight years on death row, costing us $58 a day. How dare anyone put a price on life. Anyone who values money over the life that God gave us will probably go to Hell.

All murderers should be locked up for life. However, there is no valid argument to support the death penalty that I have not refuted. Everyone needs to do some soul searching, before we kill again. The man who gives a convicted murder a lethal injection is, himself, a murderer. So, too, are all death penalty supporters.

Dennis is a junior political science major

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