Capital punishment unfair, leads to racism, sexism

Columnist and Columnist

On Nov. 14, Ohio is set to execute Ronald Phillips, a convicted child rapist and murderer.

Since 1999, when Ohio resumed executing prisoners, our state has had one of the most active death chambers in the U.S.

While it is highly doubtful that many will shed a tear when this man is put to death, the questions remain: What does his execution really accomplish? Is the death penalty fairly administered? Is it cost effective? And should a country that purports to be the greatest on earth be in the execution business?

This column is an anti-capital punishment column. That being stated, I have had a macabre` fascination with the death penalty for most of my life.

I have even wanted to witness an execution in my life even though I am against the practice. I find the ritual disgusting, sub-human and fruitless but the attraction of the process still pulls me in. Despite all this, I firmly believe that the U.S. should outlaw this practice.

The death penalty is inherently racist. A black man is exponentially more likely to end up on death row than a white man, especially if his victim or victims were white. This is not opinion either.

Unfortunately, the south is the leader in this ugly, racist way of sentencing murderers, but the pattern is followed in all death penalty states. To ignore this blatant racism is to discount fact. We like to pretend that America is a post-racial country but the death penalty shows us that is indeed a myth.

Capital punishment is also extremely sexist. A female murderer rarely ends up on death row. Juries that have no moral qualms about sending a man to his doom suddenly get squeamish when it is time to sentence a woman in a capital murder case.

Is this fair? The answer is an unequivocal no.

A wealthy person ending up on the gurney is truly a rare occurrence. Money equals better representation in this nation and better representation almost always guarantees the lack of a death sentence.

Governor Mike DiSalle, who sent inmates to their death during his term as Ohio’s chief executive, said that all death row inmates had one thing in common: they were penniless. DiSalle served our state from 1959 to 1963, but his point still is beyond valid; rich people, regardless of race or sex do not end up on death row.

I like to make a sick joke every time our state puts a prisoner to death. I turn to whomever I am with and state, “I sure feel safer now!” It is sarcastic of course. The truth is the death penalty is not a deterrent and does not prevent murder. Yes, proponents will state that the person executed will never murder again and that is certainly true. No studies worth the paper they were printed on though show that capital punishment is a real deterrent of homicide. If a person is willing to murder, they really have no concern about what may or may not happen to them in the future.

We also would be very foolhardy to believe that innocent people have not been executed in our country. The sheer number of people released from death row across our nation after being exonerated for varieties of reasons is staggering. If one were to look at the work that the Innocence Project has done in freeing innocent people from death rows across America, then one would not be able to justify a pro-death penalty stance.

Lastly, it is much more expensive to execute a person than to lock them up for life. Lawyer fees far outstrip food, clothing and shelter of an inmate. The cost argument in favor of execution does not exist, no matter how much it is cited.

I ask in conclusion, that when faced with the facts, should our country be engaged in such an unfair practice? I say emphatically not. Our thirst for vengeance does not outweigh common sense.

Think of that on Nov. 14 when another Ohioan gets the needle.

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