Lack of humanity in death row and prison

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Death penalty statutes in the United States

Keenen Langley, Opinions Writer

Since 1973, 190 innocent civilians have been wrongly sentenced to death row. Not everyone put in the big house is guilty, that much is clear, but had these misconvicted citizens been put in prison for life instead of death row, they could have been freed. But life in prison is no cure for death row. Some criminals are too heinous and unredeemable to be left alive. Death row and life in prison are both inhumane but are both necessary evils. The only way to reduce the amount of death row inmates and prisoners without parole is to reform our crooks.

Treason, murder, robbery, piracy, mutiny, hostility against the United States, counterfeiting, and aiding the escape of a capital prisoner are all punishable by death. Although some may seem obvious like murder, do the others really deserve death row? You only live once, so wouldn’t it be better to try and redeem these rotten eggs? Same with those sentenced to life in prison, which is very similar to death row in the sense that it’s the end of that person’s life. Why must they rot for the rest of their life in prison if they can be changed? A lot of these crooks are unredeemable, but we should reform the ones that are. No teenagers or children should be given life in prison but around 2300 have according to The Sentencing Project, a non-profit organization established to advocate for effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults.

It is not impossible for prisoners to redeem themselves. They are humans just like us, even if they are crooked. A popular example of an inmate redeeming themselves after their sentence is ex-jewel thief Larry Lawton who is now an author, motivational speaker, and YouTuber. After his release, he founded a Reality Check program that aims to show teens the consequences of criminal life. If he can turn around his life and help save the futures of other potential convicts, why can’t other prisoners do the same?

Once again, not everybody can be redeemed. Somebody like Ted Bundy, who willingly confessed to 30 murders and didn’t regret any of them would not be an ideal candidate for reform. However, death row and life in prison should not be the end for everyone. Our system needs to change from keeping prisoners and innocent people in prison just because it’s the easy way out, to one that tries to reform our crooks for the better.