What’s The Issue With The Death Penalty?


Credit: Local10 News

Nikolas Cruz at trial.

Victoria Betancourt, Editor in Chief / Sports Editor

It’s been three years since the dreadful Parkland shooting and finally justice is starting to be served. However, there is a major controversy surrounding the already high profile case. Should Nikolas Cruz get the death penalty or life in prison?

Although many states have eliminated the death penalty, some states still use it as a punishment—one of them being Florida. Since the 1979 reinstatement of this sentence, Florida has had 99 executions all being held at Florida State Prison; with Cruz it would become 100.

The first ever death penalty in Florida took place in 1827 when Benjamin Donica was hanged for murder. Since then, we’ve come a long way with execution methods with 44 of the 99  executed by electric chair and 45 by lethal injection. Lethal injection is also a fairly new method. The Florida Legislature passed legislation that allows it as an alternative method of execution in January of 2000.

In Florida, capital punishment is on the table only in cases of violent crimes. This typically includes the worst cases of murder, but it is still on the table for many cases in Florida.

Currently, there are 305 inmates on Florida’s Death Row including 302 men and three women. However, it hasn’t been carried out in more than two years.

The secondary controversy surrounding the case—Is it moral to carry out?

Looking at it through Catholic lens, the question is not up for discussion, as the death penalty is anathema to protecting the sanctity of life.

Parents of the students who lost their lives during the shooting believe that the man on trial shouldn’t be shown mercy, and deserves what he gets, including death. However, if a person is not as close to the case he or she may view the verdict in a different way.

Placing the situation under a Salesian lens, the death penalty is morally wrong because an individual’s human dignity and ultimate right to life is denied. The only reason any type of killing or murder of another may be justified under a Christian context is when it is an act of self-defense.

The main question posed in a general argument over the topic: How does that make you better than him?

If you start to unpack this, how does killing a murderer solve the problem or make you superior if in a way you’re still doing the same? If you think about it, death is the easy way out. The convict doesn’t truly get to deal with the consequences of his actions if you shorten his life. Life in prison without a chance of parole would be the better choice since they have to live with consequences and properly get to their learn their lesson instead of getting off with death.

Cruz recently decided to plead guilty to possibly avoiding the sentencing of the death penalty, and instead get life in prison. Until then, no one knows what his future holds.