The Reasons I Changed My Mind About the Death Penalty
Years ago, when I was still a teenager, an elderly great aunt of mine was viciously raped and murdered by a person that broke into her house one night. Despite this crime happening in another state, and her being a distant relative I'd never met, I still remember the raw feeling of wanting her murderer to face justice, and to get the death penalty. I grew up in Texas after all, and we lead the nation in executions. The idea that they are a just form of punishment was something I took for granted.
The kinds of capital crimes that can earn a criminal a state-enforced meeting with the Grim Reaper are almost always the worst possible. Very few people I know can feel sympathy for a person that has callously raped, tortured and murdered their way onto Death Row, and that is understandable. It's a lot to ask of a person, perhaps too much.
At the time of my great aunt's murder, I was completely accepting of the death penalty as an instrument of justice. It appealed to my sense of fairness, as the exchange of a killer's life for robbing an innocent of theirs seemed to make sense. Certainly not an "even trade," but the best kind of justice society could hope for in such terrible criminal cases.
As the years rolled on, I began to question my feelings on the matter, primarily because some of the arguments against capital punishment began to make more sense to me than the reasons supporting it. I began to question whether the death penalty was a just sentence for society to impose on those convicted of horrific crimes. I respectfully understand that many people will disagree with me, but several issues kept popping up that changed my mind about supporting the death penalty.