Death Penalty Won't Protect Children

RECEIVED Thu., Jan. 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In response to Jordan Smith's Jan. 11 [News] article "Child Sexual Assault and the Death Penalty": It is a slippery slope we endeavor upon when the states begin to expand the use of the death penalty. The line will inevitably become very, very gray. Yesterday, it was the death penalty for committing homicide. Today, it's the death penalty for a child molester. What crime will warrant the death penalty tomorrow? Will this open the door for a slew of other inhumane punishments such as chopping the hands off of thieves?
    The tendency to make examples of others for one’s own political advancement is too great in this world for me to ever feel comfortable about expanding the use of capital punishment. Why would a state consider expanding the use of capital punishment when it is evident that innocent people have already been wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit and were sentenced and put to death?
    The Louisiana Supreme Court reasoned that "since children cannot protect themselves, the state is given the responsibility to protect them." Protecting a child can be done through less barbaric means than killing an already incarcerated person. Capital punishment has nothing to do with protecting children and more to do with a society’s desire for vengeance. In fact, it will only place children at greater risk for the very reasons that the National Association of Social Workers cites. It gives a perpetrator little motivation to spare a victim’s life, and it also discourages children from speaking up by imposing too much pressure on them. If a child realizes that his or her coming forth could potentially contribute to the death of someone who might possibly even be a family member, then a child will be more inclined to keep the silence and endure the abuse.
Allissa Chambers
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