A collaborative effort between William Winchester and Heather Lennon

As a 10-year-old, when my mother got a call, I immediately questioned, “What happened?” That day, my mother got the call that the drunk driver, who killed my uncle in a car accident, killed himself. She was joyless. My 10-year-old self  could never grasp why—why would my mother be sad that the killer of her brother is gone? That day, I didn’t understand…now I do. My mother’s strong words to me at 10 years old constantly remind me that nothing is ever solved by death.

       Since 1976, 8,127 have been sentenced to the death penalty. When the criminals of even the most heinous acts are killed, what is solved—what good comes out of such a blatant act of wrongdoing? Is the pain and suffering of the victim’s loved ones gone? Is the victim ever brought back? The simple answer is no. No act can ever make up for a lost one. The death of these individuals isn’t the answer, it’s the problem.

        According the the Constitution, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (Amendment VIII). The United States was founded as a haven for people fleeing social persecution—a utopia for people escaping the perils of their society. In today’s society we are forced to watch the wrongful death of felons and falsely convicted citizens. No one, and I mean no one, has ever solved a problem by eliminating their enemy; it’s rather the opposite, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend.”

     In 1983, Kevin Cooper was wrongfully convicted of a murder he did not commit. Despite the indicators that prove the guilty were three white males, the prosecutors of California chose to pursue capital punishment on Kevin Brown, a black man who had just escaped prison on drug charges. Was it his ethnicity or his record prior? While those questions can’t be answered, former California Governor Jerry Brown had a chance to exonerate Kevin Brown, bringing him justice after being scapegoated for a crime he did not commit. According to the New York Times article, “Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder,” by Nicolas Kristin, “… instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial.”

       Every year, people are wrongfully sentenced to death for crimes they didn’t commit, and the killings of these criminals don’t fix their wrongdoings. Capital punishment doesn’t just violate our constitution, it violates our moral code. We as members of humanity we must right letters to our congressman and women persuading them to rise above the stalemate in Washington, as death is never the answer.

    Photo Courtesy Los Angeles Times