Iowans should reject return to death penalty

Editor’s Note: Student in American Literature: 1940s to Today write letters on current social issues using some Martin Luther King, Jr.’s techniques and quotes. This is one of those letters.

Dear Editor,

I am writing as a member of Mr. Winkel’s sixth hour American Literature 1940’s to Today. I have recently read Martin Luther King Jr’s. “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and it has started me thinking more about taking a stand on the death penalty.

Handing down a death sentence is a huge responsibility for a judge to make. For centuries, the death penalty has been legal in a lot of states. It is a very controversial issue that I believe deserves serious consideration immediately.

A lot of innocent lives are being taken because innocent people have been put on trial and found guilty of crimes they didn’t commit, but the truth came too late. When an innocent person pays the price for someone else, then instead of justice, now a child has lost a dad, a wife her husband, the parents their own child.

Not all states carry the death penalty, and states that do, do not have less crime or fewer murder rates than those who don’t.

The person who killed Coach Thomas in Parkersburg was very young when he did it. He is now in prison for life. Should he have been given the death penalty? Let’s think about that. I could understand if Coach Thomas’s family would have asked for the death penalty if it were legal in Iowa, but it still would not have changed their very sad and horrible loss. So would a life for a life be the right thing? Is the death penalty an unjust law? Dr. King stated, “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

Then there are repeat offenders. While I do not believe we should ever allow rapists, murderers, drug dealers or anyone who commits a serious crime to be set free again, I don’t think it is right to kill them. We cannot reason with these people and something has to be done about it but statistics show that the death penalty does not deter these crimes.

Some people grow up in violent home environments or in areas with high crime rates. They are very likely to commit crimes themselves. With some kind of intervention maybe they could get the help they need to keep them out of prison and possibly facing the death penalty. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The teachings of Christ come to earth.” He also quoted, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you’.

I am not a defender of these criminals in any way or the people who commit them, but I am not in any favor of killing anyone either.



 Brittney Hendrix CFHS Student

Class of 2014

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