by Teo Schollmaier
I do not support the death penalty in its current form. The death penalty is an inhumane and dehumanizing punishment. The lethal injection can take up to two hours to work, which happened to Christopher Newton in 2007. The lethal injection is commonly viewed as “painless,” but there have been almost no studies on this. The few studies that have been released point to the lethal injection as being extremely painful, condemning the victims to silent suffering, unable to move under the high doses of anesthetic.
The main problem with the death penalty is the error rate. One PNAS study estimates the error rate death row convictions to be 4.1%, meaning that one of every 25 executions is performed on an innocent person. I would argue that this high of error rate is due to the mental and emotional separation between the judge, jury, and the actual execution. It is easy for a jury to send an innocent person into a back room to be executed. The only person who has to deal with the weight of killing an innocent person is the executioner, who is often a doctor that is legally required to carry out the procedure.
“Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.” This is a line directly from the Hippocratic Oath, an oath that historically doctors are sworn in with. Ironic, is it not?
The current death penalty has many problems, but I still support the idea of a death penalty. I dislike the idea of awful people being kept in jail for the rest of their lives. I see this as a pointless waste of tax money. The jail system was intended as a punishment to deter crime. In a perfect system, it would also work as a support network to rehabilitate criminals into functional members of society. Lifetime terms do not fulfill either of these demands.
I also believe that life terms are inhumane. Imagine living behind bars, in a building filled with criminals, gang members, murderers, etc., with no possibility of ever leaving. Does that sound like a life worth living? I think that many people would prefer a quick and painless death.
My idea of a perfect death penalty is medieval (and macabre). I support death by guillotine. I believe public execution in one of the bloodiest ways possible will fix many of the current issues of the death penalty.
Firstly, guillotines are quick. After decapitation, the victim will go unconscious in less than ten seconds due to a lack of blood flow to the brain. This is a painless process. If a guillotine is used correctly, it will almost instantly sever the brain stem, making it impossible for the victim to feel any pain. The process could be modernized—the victim could be given anesthetic beforehand—but even by itself, a guillotine is still far more humane than the lethal injection.
The problem of innocent people being executed and its applicable solution is more complicated. The judge and jury could be required to witness the execution, as a deterrent for using the death penalty when it is not warranted. Being required to witness a beheading would provide ample reason to only use the death penalty when evidence is in excess, and the crime is of a truly horrendous nature such that the judge and jury would feel confident enough in their decision to witness the execution themselves.
While it may seem extreme—or even crazy—I believe that bringing the guillotine back would be an effective solution to the problems presented by our current system of the death penalty.