Firing Squad Utah

A group opposed to capital punishment plans over one lawmaker's plan to resurrect the use of firing squads protests outside the Utah State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The group Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty argues firing squad executions are a gruesome relic of the state's Wild West past that create a media frenzy around condemned inmates. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer

The Supreme Court is giving America another chance to start a conversation about the death penalty and hopefully abolish it for good.

The Court decided to hear a case from Oklahoma that could ban the use of midazolam, a drug some states use to sedate death row inmates before they execute them.

Most people argue that midazolam doesn’t actually sedate inmates.

Last year was the first time Oklahoma, or any part of the United States, used midazolam. The inmate they used it on, Clayton Lockett, was reported clenching his teeth and writhing in agony. After about 40 minutes, he was declared dead from what appeared to be a heart attack.

Two other executions happened with this drug last year. Both of those executions were also botched.

These three inmates were the guinea pigs for this failed experiment. They faced cruel and unusual punishment, and their Eighth Amendment right was violated.

If the Supreme Court finds midazolam unconstitutional, states like Oklahoma would either have to find another drug or abolish the death penalty altogether.

The most humane and rational thing to do would be getting rid of capital punishment.

Studies from Death Penalty Focus and Death Penalty Information Center already have shown life in prison without parole is cheaper than execution.

Prosecutors seeking the death penalty often have to go through longer trials. The extended time increases the legal fees for both parties. For victims and their families, a longer trial also means it’ll take longer for them to make peace.

States that used this drug would have to find a new drug to sedate inmates. They’ll have to take valuable resources away from state programs in order to create a new sedation drug.

Instead of building new roads or funding health care and education, money would be funneled into a drug to assist killing people.

Why not instead just invest in programs to rehabilitate criminals and halt crimes? That would create more productive members of society while also lowering crime rates.

More importantly, the death penalty is an archaic form of punishment with irreversible consequences.

According to a recent study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, about four percent of people sentenced to death from 1973 to 2004 were proven innocent.

Four percent is a small number, but that’s still 340 lives taken. And those people don’t have the chance to be freed or get their lives back.

The death penalty also doesn’t deter crimes. People are still fighting and killing one another. Harvard research showed that mass shootings have tripled since 2011. The threat of the death penalty clearly doesn’t stop anyone.

Look at New Orleans, one of the murder capitals of the world. Louisiana supports and practices the death penalty, but we’re still one of the most dangerous states in the nation.

Globally, the United States is consistently more dangerous than most of Europe. However, every European country except one doesn’t have capital punishment.

If the point of the death penalty is to deter crimes, it’s not doing a good job. And if the death penalty isn’t supposed to deter crimes, then what’s the point of having it?

Constitutionally, we’re supposed to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Maybe the death penalty wasn’t considered cruel and unusual back in the 19th and early-20th centuries. But today, we have resources for mental health and an infrastructure that can keep people locked up for life. When we have all those resources available, the death penalty is barbaric.

Unless we’re talking about Hitler or Kim Jong Un, no one deserves the death penalty.

Most countries see it that way. Nearly all of Europe, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Russia and parts of South America and Asia have abolished the death penalty.

America, on the other hand, stands with countries like Afghanistan, China, Iran and Iraq on this issue. We consider these countries to be archaic and inhumane, but we continue their custom of having the death penalty.

The death penalty is a barbaric practice that does more harm than good. It’s time for America to become civilized and do away with this law.

Cody Sibley is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Opelousas, Louisiana. You can reach him on Twitter @CodySibley.

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