(Billy Ray Irick (left) and Paula Dryer, the 7-year-old girl he raped and murdered (right))
By Cody Foster
The death penalty, as of 2016, is legal in thirty-one states in the United States. The electric chair is still permitted in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, and our home state: Tennessee. We literally give criminals the same treatment that we give insects. In Utah, they still carry out capital punishment by firing squad (probably one of the most humane forms), and in Washington, they still give criminals public hangings; although, the last public hanging was in 1994 and the convicted murderer had the choice between hanging or lethal injection. However, possibly the most inhumane punishment: gas inhalation is legal in Arizona and California.
Recently, a prisoner, Billy Ray Irick, was sentenced to death by lethal injection in Tennessee. He was found guilty of rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in 1986 and had to wait 32 years for his execution. It was Tennessee’s first execution in over a decade. Irick’s last words were an apology. He stated, “I just want to say I'm really sorry and that, that's it.”
Though it is reserved for the world’s most evil, the death penalty is still viewed by many, including myself, as cruel and inhumane. Many view the world in an “eye-for-eye” mentality that is an understandable viewpoint; however, that mentality only cultivates hate. Most people are rational enough to understand that a life sentence is worse than an execution. Prison is considered one of the worst places you can be, so why would anyone give someone who has committed evil deeds the satisfaction of death. Compared to life in prison, the death penalty is a slap on the wrist. Prisons have little to nothing to do; therefore, many prisoners will resort to committing crimes against one another.
The daily routine of a death row inmate generally consists of
Though many could view capital punishment as a necessary good for people like Nikolas Cruz (Parkland shooter) and other murderers, those people will be treated far worse in prison. Therefore, the mentality of “an eye-for-eye” does not work in this scenario as well as many others.