August 18, 2021
On occasion, I need to remind myself why I am anti-Death Penalty. With cases like the murder of Officer Raynor, it’s that time I remind myself why I believe what I do. This situation is emotionally hard due to the circumstances and the almost certain guilt of the perpetrator. During these times, I think of the writings of a Founding Father, Dr. Benjamin Rush. Dr. Rush argued that the Death Penalty isn’t a deterrent, as it tends to increase murders through an effect called Brutalization. He puts forth five arguments for this. However, I will only post three as the other two are no longer relevant(one opinion was adopted into our current justice system, and the other is only relevant to the geo-politics of 1792, the time of the writing).
“The punishment of murder by death, is contrary to reason, and to the order and happiness of society.1. It lessens the horror of taking away human life, and thereby tends to multiply murders.2. It produces murder, by its influence upon people who are tired of life, and who, from a supposition, that murder is a less crime than suicide, destroy a life (and often that of a near connexion) and afterwards deliver themselves up to justice, that they may escape from their misery by means of a halter.3. The punishment of murder by death, multiplies murders, from the difficulty it creates of convicting persons who are guilty of it. Humanity, revolting at the idea of the severity and certainty of a capital punishment, often steps in, and collects such evidence in favour of a murderer, as screens him from justice altogether, or palliates his crime into manslaughter. If the punishment of murder consisted in long confinement, and hard labor, it would be proportioned by the measure of our feelings of justice, and every member of society would be a watchman or a magistrate, to apprehend a destroyer of human life, and to bring him to punishment.”
Argument 1 is the one that hits me the most. Are we devaluing human life with the Death Penalty? I think we can all agree human life is sacred. Not just to the person who is living it, but to the other parties that invested emotion in and sacrificed for that life. I don’t know Othal Wallace, but I imagine he has a mother, or a father, or a brother, or a sister, or a cousin, or a best friend. Is it conscionable for our society to inflict the same pain to those innocent parties that Othal Wallace inflicted upon the family and friends of Officer Jason Raynor?
In closing, let me reaffirm that what Othal Wallace did the night of June 23rd was abhorrent. It is one of the worse crimes someone can commit. He not only murdered a good, honorable man by all accounts, but he deeply wounded our entire community. I am grateful that we have leaders who stepped up and helped it heal. Their important work isn’t done yet, but I know we’re in good hands.