April 10, 2013

Who is punished with the death penalty?

By Tyler Mercer–

Holmes seated in court with his public defender.

Everyone recalls the Aurora Theater shooting this past July, and we look at it with sympathy, compassion and a demand for justice to be served. Rightly so since the shooter held no mercy for the 12 strangers he killed that day. Prosecutors in the case have begun to seek the death penalty as punishment for Holmes, but in doing so they show the same disregard for compassion and mercy as Holmes did many months ago.

I will not argue with you that the Bible disagrees with the death penalty or that I’m taking this stance because of my religion, although both of those are partly true. I want to bring to light instead the fact that death is only a punishment for those who have so much to live for. Death may feel like justice to the survivors of the shooting or to the family and friends of those who died, but that is not the justice Holmes deserves to be served.

His blatant disrespect for the value and fragility of life should be punished, but killing Holmes won’t be much of a punishment at all. He will die. Depending on your religion, you may believe that he will be destined to an acre of the afterlife and he will have no further suffering. He will be dead and those grieving the loss of their loved ones or those who feel passion about this story will live on with grief, heartache and sadness.

James Holmes deserves something much crueler than death. He deserves a life without truly being able to live. He deserves a life of solitary confinement where he has no option but to live everyday with regret for his choices and actions that put him there. He does not deserve to die, but instead live a life that is worse than death.

My opinion may not mean much to anyone with power in this situation, but I stand behind it. If Holmes is put to death, he is getting the easy way out.

Should Holmes be put to death, he will be given an opportunity to escape from the life he should have to live now. He should have to live in solitude where he can lie in his regret, his sorrow and the thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” That is simply too easy.
Holmes’ family will be suffering for the rest of their lives. His mother, father and sister will have to grieve the loss of their child and sibling. That pain is something that simply cannot be understood without the experience, one that I do not wish on anyone.

Holmes receiving the death penalty won’t be a punishment for him; it will be a punishment for his family. They will be punished for not noticing something they wish they had, for not helping him when they maybe could have or simply for not doing something differently when the opportunity was available.

I will always take the side of a victim, because despite mental incapacities or what have you, everyone has the opportunity to choose to do the right thing, aside from extreme cases. I do not want this argument to be misconstrued as me supporting Holmes. I do however support his family.

We should not punish the Holmes family for the actions of James Holmes. However, that is what the death penalty will do. It will punish his family and they have done nothing wrong. The death penalty should not be used in any case, regardless of the circumstances.

Death is the easy way out. Life with regret and emptiness is a punishment greater than death and should be used instead. Justice cannot be served to the dead, so why should we let those who deserve punishment to avoid paying their dues?

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Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com

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