Cruel and unusual executions

By Kobi Azoulay

Staff Writer

The death penalty represents one of the most complicated moral dilemmas our society must deal with.

   We, as a country, value human life, but then put people to death that don’t value the life of others.

      Having to sentence someone to death is a horrible and heavy thing, but in many cases, at least, people can understand why that sentence was chosen even if they don’t personally agree with that form of punishment.

   Lately though, there have been a string of questionable capital punishment cases.

   Since 1984, there have been 11 people executed solely for planning murders that were actually carried out by someone else. In five of these cases, the murderer was given a life sentence while the contractor was executed.

   This being said, it appears that we live in a country where conspiring to kill someone can result in a worse punishment than actually murdering somebody with your own hands. This kind of injustice is not only immoral, it’s barbaric.

   The latest case involved a Georgia woman named Kelly Gissendaner, who was executed on Sept 30 for convincing her boyfriend to murder her husband. Gissendaner was sentenced to death, while the actual murderer has been allowed to live out the remainder of his life in prison.

   It was horrible for Gissendaner to have her husband killed, but having someone killed is not as real as murdering someone yourself. The ones contracting the murders are not the ones listening to the victim suffer as they murder the them, and that incapability of personally taking a life shows they still have a shred of humanity.

   It’s much more deserving of severe punishment to kill someone, rather than to have someone killed.

   The lack of sympathy is what makes this story even sadder.

   Gissendaner’s kids have made every attempt to save her life, even though she had their father murdered; they still didn’t believe that she deserved to die.

   They had a choice the day before the execution to either see their mother one last time, or have her execution appealed. They chose the appeal.

   Ultimately, though, this still didn’t work. She was executed by lethal injection the next morning.

   This woman was put to death despite desperate attempts from her children to keep her alive, while there are mass murderers who get to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

   Even Pope Francis wanted her life spared.

   “While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime for which Ms. Gissendander has been convicted, and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,” Francis wrote in a letter sent through Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

   The pope’s opinion isn’t the most important factor in a situation like this, but taken into account with the dedication shown by Gissendander’s kids, it’s shocking a judge didn’t show mercy.

   Richard Glossip from Oklahoma might join her on the list of non-murderers executed soon. This man hired his coworker to kill their boss in 1997, and his coworker avoided the death penalty by turning Glossip in.

   To make matters worse, Glossip’s execution has been postponed three times, with the latest being rescheduled minutes before he was supposed to be set to die. His friends believe that this has had a very harmful effect on his mental health.

   The cases of Gissendander, Glossip and all other contract killers are in violation of the eighth amendment.

   It’s cruel and unusual to have somebody put to death when they didn’t commit the murder themselves.

   Glossip’s case is even crueler because he has been forced to suffer on the cusp of death, and he’ll be in that situation for the majority of the foreseeable future.

   There are times where the death penalty seems reasonable, but when we spare the lives of murderers while their contractors suffer the ultimate price, what does that say about the moral values of our society?

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