The death penalty was something we all learned about in school and the responses regarding its legality have never just been black or white. Some agree it serves a purpose of justice and others find it inhumane and believe it serves no justice but in fact contradicts itself. I found it fascinating that so many people believed so many different things and decided I wanted to dive into this and see if anybody could convince me that my own opinions were wrong.
I personally believe that the death penalty should be abolished under all circumstances as I believe it serves no purpose and definitely does not provide justice. I see no reasoning behind the act, and if the people on death row are there for committing murder, are the people who give them their injections not then murderers themselves? I also strongly believe the saying "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Despite this, I wanted to investigate why people think the way we do and what shapes our opinions.
I started this off small and enquired only within my social group and my family, and surprisingly they almost all said the same thing. I asked, "Do you agree with the death penalty as a form of justice?" I found that not many answers were a clear "yes" or "no." I found that they mostly all agreed that it would depend on the crime committed and the reason behind it. My family all agreed that for more serious cases like murder and rape that it should be put in place. I pushed on further and asked, "Would there be any circumstances you would let somebody off if they committed either of these crimes?" They thought for a while but again agreed that factors that could impact their decision would be if the perpetrator had history of mental illness or psychological issues due to upbringing, or if they're being sentenced to death for a crime they committed at a young age.
This caused me to think further into it. If there are circumstances in which we would let people off, how far could we go? Where is the line drawn? Do the circumstances vary depending on the person?
I then took to twitter and tweeted out a poll reading: "Do you agree with the death penalty as means of punishment?" and my options were "yes," "no," "dependent on the situation," and "unsure." I left this poll for 24 hours, which gave as many people as possible time to vote. After the 24-hour period, I was surprised to actually have any votes at all. 36% of people said "no." 29% said it depends on the situation, 21% were "undecided," and the remaining 14% said "yes."
This shocked me a bit because my family all said it would depend on the situation but young people on twitter were more opposed to it, so could this be a generational thing? It seems to be that the youth of today would abolish the death penalty, but the adults would rather keep it in place.
Still unable to change my outlook, I decided to watch almost every death row documentary and series I could find, and see if I would agree with the sentencing of any of these criminals. It took almost a week for me to watch them all; I checked every TV channel and YouTube documentary, and my mind was still unable to be swayed. I found myself deeply engrossed in these crimes and experienced every emotion known to man. I was angry, I cried, I felt remorseful, and in some cases I felt happy, not because these people had died but because their appeals had gone through and the date of their death was pushed back.
Whilst watching, I saw a lot of young people like myself, in situations that could make your blood curdle and all you can think is, "what happened to these young people that made them act in such a way?" and "should they be sentenced to death for something they did when they were 17 years old?" I personally believe in reformation, as with the right help and support I think that people can go back to being ordinary members of society, but in order to do so there needs to be some sort of deterrence to prevent them from recommitting. I therefore don't agree that the death penalty does this; instead it's a form of vindication and is meant to be a way of deterrence, but instead it causes more harm than it solves.
I do however see the argument of "it depends on the situation" for those who are past hope and claim they would commit again, because there therefore aren't many options left for them. BUT...despite this, I still stand by the claim that all lives are worth something; nobody in this world is more important or less important than another so they should not be treated as so. If it is wrong to murder, then surely putting somebody on death row should be seen the same?
I'm still very interested in finding out more about the death penalty, why certain countries have it, why people have the beliefs they do and what makes a person commit a crime, and I'll hopefully be back to post more about my discoveries, opinions, and cases that have shocked me. If you'd like to send me any thoughts or opinions that you have, then send me a DM on Twitter @bxcky_x —all responses are greatly appreciated.