Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By MICHELLE LE, For the Journal-Constitution

Many Americans insist that capital punishment is the key to deterring crime, compensating for the loss of an innocent life and upholding justice in a free society.

Their arguments are justified, to an extent. If someone kills another human being, he or she deserves nothing less than death itself, the argument goes. Why should American tax dollars fund prisons to harbor criminals who, seemingly, offer nothing for society?

Yes, losing a loved one to the hands of insanity is a tragedy. But dealing with the tragedy by committing the same act against the perpetrator is not the right answer.

Capital punishment laws assume that fear influences most people, that the threat of death will deter a person from murder. If this were true, no one would participate in extreme sports, smoking, wars or reckless driving.

Perhaps the most compelling argument for capital punishment is that it upholds justice. I have had many conflicting thoughts when considering what should be a “fair” punishment for a person who would willingly kill another human being.

My anger wants to torture the offender until he or she has received every ounce of hurt, loss, pain and anguish that the victim suffered.

The offender should never be able to experience the slightest joy in life — - from laughter to fresh air. That person deserves nothing. My anger tells me nothing less than that.

But am I willing to be that person who pushes the button to execute the offender? The day I can say “yes” to this question is the day I will support capital punishment. It would not matter if I was paid to push that button; the blood of the offender is still on my hands if I am the one who makes a conscious choice to put the offender in the death chamber.

Capital punishment is the politically correct term for revenge. It breeds violence.

I do not know what it will take to deter someone from killing someone else. But I do know that America can not handle significant problems, such as murder, by stooping to the same level as the murderer. It is a barbaric solution and has no place in a modern, civilized society.