Prosecutors in Colorado decided Tuesday to seek the death penalty for James Holmes, the infamous Batman shooter in Aurora, Colo.
The news was met with a round of applause in the courtroom, which included many victims’ families and Holmes’s parents.
As I read news articles detailing the way the courtroom crowd reacted, I gave a lot of thought about what I would do in the situation.
Psychologically, I do not understand the impact of watching a close friend die from gunshot wounds in front of me when I thought we would simply be watching a movie. Hopefully, I will never have to understand that.
I hope, though, that I would not be a part of the crowd that applauds when a prosecutor announces that he will seek the death penalty for another human. After all, even though I have never killed anyone nor committed an atrocious crime, I am nonetheless imperfect.
Everyone would argue that the mistakes I have made do not warrant the death penalty. So, where do we draw the line?
Is there a clear, definitive line between crimes that “deserve” the death penalty and those that do not?
We scale the consequences of mistakes accordingly in today’s society.
A speeding ticket is a simple fine, while robbery can lead to many years in prison.
We all understand why that is.
As a general rule, Americans believe that the death penalty is only warranted in situations involving the death of a victim. Death for death, right?
Without getting into all of the times in which that general rule does not suffice, why do Americans largely hold to that rule?
Is sentencing a human to death — or celebrating that sentence — really any different from committing murder? The end result is the same: ending the life of another human.
Most in support of the death penalty will argue that the means, rather than the ends, distinguish murder and the death penalty.
After all, men and women of the jury, who decide the fate of an accused murderer, are simply performing a public duty in the name of the state, rather than as individuals with malicious intent.
On the other hand, a murderer who is facing the death penalty most likely committed the murder with malicious intent.
I understand the difference in the means but I cannot see beyond the ends. Perhaps I am looking at it wrong, but I don’t believe so. In the end, another human is dead.
Regardless of what that human did and regardless of if twelve peers feel that he deserves, the end result is a loss of life.
We are filled with sorrow and sympathy when we hear about a tragedy, such as the Batman shooting, due to the horrible loss of life, yet, some celebrate when it is announced that a prosecutor will also be seeking loss of life?
Am I the only one who sees a problem with that?
I firmly believe that people who commit crimes undoubtedly deserve punishment equal to that of the crime.
However, I do not believe that any “deserve” the death penalty because we as humans should not deprive anyone of life.
So when someone asks I can tell them that I am truly pro-life.
Trenton Winford is a junior public policy leadership major from Madison.