The inequalities of the death penalty

Jared Hosid, chair of the GW College Republicans, nobly set out to establish “the truth” regarding the death penalty in his Nov. 5 op-ed (“Death penalty and truth,” p. 5). Instead, he only propagated the fallacies upon which death penalty supporters have based their arguments for the past two decades.

Hosid was sparked to write by the event organized in response to the execution of Tyrone Gilliam. He argues that the meeting brought shame to the University. In reality, the University should be proud of any opportunity that it provides for the academic exchange of ideas, regardless of the participants’ political leanings.

Substantively, the death penalty in the United States does not deter crime, is racially biased, is politically motivated and violates international law. Amnesty International elaborates on these points in its recent publication on human rights in the United States.

Hosid dismisses the assertion that the death penalty is racially biased. In fact, a recent study in Philadelphia showed that a black defendant is four times more likely to receive a death sentence than a white defendant.

Also, 82 percent of prisoners executed were convicted of the murder of a white person, yet blacks and whites are the victims of murders in nearly equal numbers. These statistics are not purely coincidental.

The death penalty desensitizes the public and increases tolerance for the violation of human rights. Lawmakers justify its existence by stating that it deters crime. In reality, the death penalty has not prevented crime or brought down its occurrence.

Politicians also point to public approval in justifying capital punishment. However, the public has often approved of egregious violations of human rights, including slavery and segregation.

Amnesty International published in its report a quote from a South African judge, which eloquently summarizes the argument against the death penalty: “Every person shall have the right to life. If not, the killer unwittingly achieves a final and perverse moral victory by making the state a killer too.”

-The writer is a senior majoring in international affairs.

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