Letters: For or against the death penalty?

Johnson City Press • Aug 22, 2018 at 6:00 AM

In a recent Question of the Week, we asked for your thoughts on the death penalty after Tennessee’s first execution in nine years. Here are some of your responses.

Consider the victims

The recent execution of Billy Ray Irick for the rape/murder of a 7-year-old little girl has brought the death penalty to the attention of the public again.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor bemoaned the fact that Irick might suffer a torturous death. Well so what? What kind of death and torturous last minutes of life did the victim suffer? I suppose Sotomayor’s version of a humane death for Irick would be for him to die from natural causes while being kept up by the state at an enormous cost. He lived for thirty some more years after conviction while numerous appeals and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to try and overturn the death penalty he was awarded. The victim never got the chance to live a normal life until she could pass away from natural causes. She got seven years of life.

Sotomayor’s viewpoint is just another example of let’s go easier on crime. We have laws and punishment guidelines for crimes. It is her job as well as all other justices to see that the laws are carried out as written and not what her personal viewpoint is on the matter.

The question I have here is who allowed the victim to be left alone with him to begin with? If he was mentally unstable why was the victim even around him? Maybe they should have gotten some severe punishment as well.

Until the human race can come up with a way to prevent all crimes from jaywalking to murder from being committed in the first place, we must use the punishments we have in place including the death penalty regardless of the method of execution.


Five reasons against

I can quickly think of five reasons to avoid seeking the death penalty in murder cases.

The state might kill an innocent person.

Seeking the death penalty is more expensive than seeking a prison sentence.

A national poll of police chiefs puts capital punishment at the bottom of law enforcement priorities in fighting crime.

Capital punishment will not bring back to life a dead person, nor will it assuage the feelings of those who loved the victim. It will only amplify their feelings of vengeance.

Capital punishment is still killing a person, however it is justified.

Of those five, the last is the most important, but I believe states will not be moved by morality, but by their economics. If the death penalty is abolished, it will be because of the expense in administering it.

But don’t take it from me. Go to deathpenaltyinfo.org and read the peer-reviewed research.

Johnson City

Let’s emulate the Saudis

During my many business visits to Saudi Arabia in the 80s and 90s, I often asked why there was virtually no crime in their country.

This reply was from a distinguished businessman. He stated that there was "no crime" because on Fridays in the city square 1.) Minor crimes offenders had one of their hands severed by sword. In the local religion, this is a serious religious disgrace because they had to use the same hand for all tasks, including eating and their toiletry duties! and 2.) Major offenders had their heads severed by sword in the same city square. The sentencing was done each week on Friday afternoon and broadcast on television!

Due to the country's easing of these type sentences and using expats for most of their labor, the crime rates have risen.

My point is if we, or any country, has the death penalty crime drops significantly. And by having the death penalty, I don't mean to have these "people" on "death-row" for decades while they seek retrials.

I am for the death penalty for all states!!!


Keep an eye out each week for another Question of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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