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Morality and Capital Punishment: Debating the Death Penalty with Bella Vista Students

Recently, the Trump administration has had multiple people executed during the last months of his term before his impeachment. The death penalty has long been a heavily debated topic. This week, we interviewed a handful of students to gather their thoughts on the death penalty and learn more about their opinions. We received some very thoughtful and insightful answers that helped us gain a better grasp on this controversial issue, as well as gain more knowledge about where students stand.

Are you for or against the death penalty? Why? “I’m against the death penalty. I think it’s inhuman. Locking them away for life is way better. They get to live a life while also staying away from society. It’s just better in my opinion. And plus the death penalty is kind of hypocritical. Killing someone even if you have legal authority is still really inhuman. Especially since the person is not a threat.” (Ethan Durling, Sophomore)

“I am against the death penalty because giving humans the ability to take lives "lawfully" can be incredibly flawed, not to mention false accusations and people getting killed for a crime they didn't commit, and morally, killing another person, despite their crime, never sounds like a good thing, its putting the power of life into the hands of people who should never wield it.” (Ilya Boyko, Sophomore)

“I would say it highly depends on the context for me. Although it’s likely immoral, it technically makes sense legally. The eighth amendment states that there shall be no cruel or unusual punishment, which prevents punishments that are way too harsh in comparison to the crime. But if you’re a serial killer, you’ve taken away many people’s rights to life. In that case, the death penalty technically isn’t out of proportion, especially since the death penalty is a lot more humane than it used to be. Plus, death can be seen as an escape from the abuse that they’d otherwise face in prisons for their entire life. I’d say I favor it as long as it isn’t completely out of proportion to the crime, especially if they have no intention to rehabilitate.” (Anna Tessen, Sophomore)

Does the debate on the death penalty affect you in any way and why/how? “It does not at all. I’m just sticking with my morals to pick a side.” (Ethan Durling, Sophomore)

“No, because I live under a rock and am not informed on most things, although if I were to know about it it still probably wouldn't affect me.” (Ilya Boyko, Sophomore)

“The death penalty debate doesn’t affect me a whole lot. I don’t personally know anyone who’s been in prison for serious crimes. Although, hearing it does make me think about how my morals are aligned, and helps me understand how this could be extremely important for those in prison, considering the innocent who’ve ended up on death row.” (Anna Tessen, Sophomore)

If you are for the death penalty, are there any circumstances in which you think it’s unacceptable? If you are against the death penalty are there any circumstances in which you think it’s acceptable? “I cannot think of any reason as to where it would be acceptable.” (Ethan Durling, Sophomore)

“I was against it, and personally I think there are always exceptions, just not very likely ones, so probably no.” (Ilya Boyko, Sophomore)

“I believe it should stay unacceptable for those who are under the age of 18. I also believe it should be unacceptable if the evidence presented wasn’t the strongest argument, in the sense that it’s based on technicalities, moral grey areas, and other questionable areas of reasoning. If the case isn’t one hundred percent believable, then it wouldn’t be as fair to risk a possibly innocent man’s life, especially if the offender is willing to rehabilitate.” (Anna Tessen, Sophomore)

Do you think the death penalty helps prevent crime? Why or why not? “I don’t think so. The death penalty usually goes to people who commit murder. And if you’re out there killing people then I don’t think the thought of the death penalty would bother you.” (Ethan Durling, Sophomore)

“Possibly, but it isn't the best way to prevent it.” (Ilya Boyko, Sophomore)

“Although I’m in support of the death penalty, it likely doesn’t lower the rate of crime. Many studies have looked at comparisons between states that allow the death penalty, and states that don’t allow it. Although some criminals were influenced by the idea of the death penalty, and changed their minds, the crime rate is very similar either way, and it isn’t affected much. Although, I think it’s possible that it could prevent the most violent criminals from causing trouble in prisons, and reduce criminal activity inside the walls.” (Anna Tessen, Sophomore)

If you don't believe in the death penalty, what should be the punishment for severest of crimes? If you do believe in the death penalty, do you think this is the best form of punishment for severe crimes? “I think the punishment should be life in jail. It’s way more humane and I think it’s better.” (Ethan Durling, Sophomore)

“Capital punishment should probably be some form of a reformation facility.” (Ilya Boyko, Sophomore)

“Even though the death penalty is beneficial, there’s probably better ways to deal with severe crimes. If they don’t want to rehabilitate then the death penalty is ok. It reduces crowding in prisons and is overall much cheaper. But if they do want to rehabilitate, then they’ll just have to be put in prison and try to make up for their crimes like everyone else.” (Anna Tessen, Sophomore)

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