By Michael Margavitch
Earlier this month, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed a bill that effectively made Illinois the 16th state in America to ban capital punishment. I see this as a ban is a step in the right direction. Capital punishment, though it seems fair as an eye for an eye, is the easy way out for criminals.
Soon after they are convicted of often-heinous crimes, prisoners spend time suffering in jail before they are executed by means of a quick lethal injection. This is not fair to the families affected by the criminals' atrocities. They have to live with the repercussions of the committed and so should the prisoner.
However, Illinois joined the minority of states in the argument of the death penalty. With the addition of Illinois' recent bill, 32 percent of the states in America have banned capital punishment. This means over two-thirds of the states in the country, 68 percent, still practice capital punishment. This statistic closely mirrors the public opinion of capital punishment. Sixty-four percent of Americans support the death penalty.
When people are actually on the jury, it is a different situation. In 2010, there were 114 cases in which the verdict was the death penalty. Though this number is an increase from the 112 cases that resulted in a death penalty in 2009, the number of death penalties for the previous decade decreased by 50 percent when compared to the 1990s.
This drop in death penalty verdicts can be attributed to the widespread option of "life without parole." Jurors tend to lean toward this option. They know that even though there is finality to ending somebody's life through a verdict, there may be an extended period of time before this result comes to fruition.
The number of prisoners sentenced to death is much higher than the number of prisoners who actually get executed. One major reason for the low execution rate is a shortage of the drug used to put prisoners to death. In 2009, a new method was used in Ohio: inmate Kenneth Biros received a large dose of anesthetic. This method is said to be much less painful than the usual "three drug cocktail," of barbiturate, paralytic and potassium, paralytic used to kill the prisoners. However, why should we kill prisoners painlessly rather than force them to live out the consequences of their actions?
Capital punishment is not the answer. The inconsistency of it alone is reason enough to rid our country of it. People merely sit on death row and cannot get executed anyway, because there is a shortage on the drugs used for lethal injection. The troubling proposal for a less painful but more available drug is baffling. If the victim or the families of the victim have to live with the effects of the crime committed by the criminal, so should the criminal. They should not be given an easy way out with the old-fashioned "three drug cocktail," let alone the new pain-free way. Illinois is making the right choice. Now, it is the task of the 34 remaining states performing this atrocity to end capital punishment in this country once and for all.