Capital Punishment Sparks Debate on a Statewide and National Level

CA Governor Newsom receives a lawsuit over his moratorium on the death penalty while former President Trump executes a record amount on death row

This+is+an+illustration+of+prisoners+chained+together%2C+who+are+of+different+skin+tones.+Prison+Policy+Initiative+has+stated+that+decarceration+rates+in+the+United+States+have+been+slow%2C+and+that+the+prison+population+is+five+times+as+much+as+it+was+in+1975%2C+even+before+the+US+war+on+crime+started.+It+will+be+until+2039+when+Black+American+imprisonment+rates+will+be+level+with+white+imprisonment+rates.+In+2199+is+when+female+imprisonment+rates+will+reach+pre-mass+incarceration+levels.+

Janelle White

This is an illustration of prisoners chained together, who are of different skin tones. Prison Policy Initiative has stated that decarceration rates in the United States have been slow, and that the prison population is five times as much as it was in 1975, even before the US war on crime started. It will be until 2039 when Black American imprisonment rates will be level with white imprisonment rates. In 2199 is when female imprisonment rates will reach pre-mass incarceration levels.

Caitlynn Kelley, Journalist and Editor

California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a lawsuit from Dana Point lawyer Jim Lacey, who says that his moratorium on the death penalty is beyond his powers as governor. Governor Newsom introduced the moratorium in 2019, and has stated that he does not want to administer the execution of anyone while he is governor. He further stated that the death penalty discriminates against racial and ethnic minorities, the mentally ill, and the impoverished. His moratorium includes three provisions, which are to halt the executions of the 737 [now 717 as of October 2020] inmates on death row and to close the San Quentin execution chamber. 

Also included in Gov. Newsom’s moratorium is the destruction of execution chambers, and of lethal injection protocol. In the 2016 Presidential election, voters voted for Proposition 66, which adds penal codes 3604 and 3604.1 into law. Subsection of 3604 states that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall be able to make decisions on lethal injection or lethal gas at all times. Subsection of 3604.1 states that if the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation delays the imposing of the death penalty, it will be ordered by the court to do so. President of the Association of Deputy District Assistant Attorneys in Los Angeles Michele Hanisee states that the governor’s deconstruction of the gas chamber from his moratorium is not clear as is rescinding the lethal injection protocol, due to it being swiftly reinstatable as a regulation. 

Junior Orlando Pereira agrees with Lacey that Newsom’s moratorium is an overreach of his power, “If the people of California decided as recently as 2016 that they wanted to keep the death penalty, then that decision should be upheld. What is the point of letting the people vote on something if it is going to be overturned? If Newsom is allowed to wield that power, it sets a precedent for future governors to do the same thing, which will continue to flaw the integrity of the democratic process of our state. I think that regardless of a person’s stance on the death penalty, they should agree that allowing the governor of a state to use executive action to counter laws that were voted on by the people of their state is not the correct thing to do.”

While Pereira believes that Gov. Newsom has good intentions, he believes that the moratorium gives him too much power, “These sorts of major state policy changes should go through the democratic process, whether directly as a proposition included in the next elections or indirectly through voting in the state legislature.”

He also states that the information provided by Hanisse strengthens his belief that the moratorium should not have been instated. He says that the San Quentin chamber’s closure makes sense as it is not being used, especially since it costs money to operate. However, he says its unused state prevents it from being seen as necessary for executions in his eyes.

“Also, I agree that it does not make sense to rescind the injection protocol, as making it a set of rules that has to be followed makes it much less likely to be violated,” says Pereira, “However, I am actually shocked that we have 711 inmates on death row, considering almost none get executed. So, I do agree with Newsom in getting rid of the death penalty on a statewide level, as it appears to be costing lots of money [according to information given in the interview] to hold these inmates that aren’t actually being executed. However, his method of achieving this does seem rather peculiar based on Hanisee’s information, as well as authoritarian in terms of how much power a democratically elected official should have.”

Despite there being a moratorium in California, that does not stop prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. Hanisee sought the death penalty for Alexander Hernandez, who is accused of murdering five people in the San Fernando Valley. The Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo admitted to the crimes that he did in exchange for life without the possibility of parole. Riverside county prosecutors sought for the death penalty in charging Brandon Willie Martin, however, the judge ruled for him to serve life without the possibility of parole. 

Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Pennsylvania also have a moratorium on the death penalty. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court supported the Pennsylvania Governor’s moratorium, and its death penalty has been reviewed and changed by the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment.  In 2018, there was support for a public agency to represent those in capital punishment cases, a practical drug to execute people humanely, and a “guilty, but mentally ill” sentence, so mentally ill murderers and mentally disabled murderers would be punished the same way. 

A study released by Penn State’s Justice Research Center for Research found out that in the state’s executions, that convicts who kill a white person are given the death penalty at a higher rate than convicts who kill white people. 

Additionally, in February of 2021, Virginia’s Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation to abolish the death penalty. Virgina has had the highest number of executions than any other state, but executions have waned down recently. If Virginia abolishes the death penalty, it will be the 23rd state to do so.

This abolition comes only a month after the Trump Administration carried out its 13th and final execution on January 15, 2021, when Dustin Higgs was executed in Terre Haute, Indiana. Higgs’ execution was carried out five days before the Inauguration Day of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The Trump Administration has ordered the most executions of those on death row than any other presidential administration in the past, from July 2020 until January 15, 2021. Unlike the Trump Administration, the Biden Administration is against capital punishment and wants to abolish it at the federal level. Joe Biden is the first US President in the country’s history to campaign on abolishing the federal death penalty and to win the election.

Pereira believes that the death penalty should be seldom administered, “I’ve always had a neutral stance on the death penalty. I don’t necessarily object to it as an option for punishment, however I also don’t think it should really be used all that much. What I mean is that I believe it is something that should be reserved for the worst of the worst, so that if someone does get executed, it is a generational event which is a national and maybe even an international headline.”

Senior Kaytlin Reyes believes that capital punishment is hypocritical, “It is ‘an eye for an eye’ situation. Sometimes you don’t know if the person is innocent or not. [Innocent] people have died due to capital punishment… and I feel like that it is wrong.”

Regarding senior Tyler Woods’ beliefs on capital punishment, he states, “I think that in very specific cases, execution is the right punishment. I don’t think it should be taken lightly.”

Woods thinks that those who commit premeditated murder should be executed, “You get to think about it. You think before you act and you end up killing someone. I believe you shouldn’t be given a second chance.”

Pereira believes that capital punishment at the federal level should not be abolished, since the federal system would not be influenced politically like the statewide criminal justice systems. “I think that the defectiveness of the system and its inherent racism can be traced back to the individual beliefs of judges around the country, so a federal system which can be more easily de-politicized and only executes a very deranged person once every generation is a better alternative.”

Dustin Higgs and Willis Haynes killed three women in 1996. Higgs’ accomplice was the shooter, and Higgs gave Willis the gun and ordered for Haynes to shoot the women, according to the prosecution. Haynes pleaded guilty and got life in prison, whereas Higgs was found guilty with other federal offenses. Higgs’ defense attorney called him a wonderful man and father, and said that he helped others around him while fighting against the false charges against him. Higgs told the court that the execution would be considered to be, “cruel and unusual punishment,” because the pentobarbital injection would make him feel as if he was drowning, due to his damaged lungs from the coronavirus. He was pronounced dead from his execution on January 16, 2021. 

On whether Higgs deserved to be executed, Pereira says, “I do not know much about this case, but from what I can tell he is not worthy of the death penalty… Even if he spent the rest of his life in prison, that would probably be enough, as he didn’t appear to be an evil person, which in my vision of the death penalty, would be a necessity to get executed.”

Concerning the Higgs case, Reyes states, “I do agree that the crime was wrong, I am not trying to excuse others’ crimes. [Higgs] did cause harm to others, it was wrong at the end of the day.”

She continues, “He had a family. From what I hear from family, how you get treated in prison makes you recognize the [weight] of the crime that you committed… Even though what he did was disgusting, he didn’t do the actual killing. His accomplice did. It doesn’t make sense that the person actually killed them stays in prison, whereas Higgs was killed. The Trump Administration was a joke. Trump released inmates just for his political gain. I can’t take him seriously at all.” 

During the last hours of his Presidential Administration,Trump pardoned 74 people and commuted sentences for 70 people. Some of the people he pardoned or commuted were Lil Wayne, Steve Bannon, and Kodak Black.

Reyes states that inmates might just see the death penalty as a way out of their trauma, “I believe a lot of people that see [capital punishment] as an end to all of their problems. Death is an infinite thing. For some people who do serious crimes, death is an easier way to go. In prison a lot of stuff can go on, there is violence and a lot of other things in prison that can further your punishment. It is a touchy situation…”

Wood believes that Higgs did not deserve to be executed and agrees that a sensation of drowning is a cruel and unusual consequence of lethal injection.

Others that the Trump Administration executed are Lisa Montgomery and Corey Johnson. 

Lisa Montgomery was convicted for strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a pregnant woman, in Missouri and cutting open her stomach to get her baby, which she later posed as hers. During her trial, her defense team used the insanity plea and had various doctors evaluate her. The doctors testified that she had various mental illnesses, such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and borderline personality disorder.  An Indiana judge’s ruling that her mental illness would prevent her from comprehending what she was being sentenced for was cast out. Her defense attorneys stated that her mental illness that ran in her family was worsened, due to child sexual abuse. Prosecutors during the trial stated that she faked mental illness, due to her planning of Stinnett’s murder, which included searching how to do a C-section online. Her ex-husband claimed that she was aware that she needed to give birth to a child, so she could get custody over her two out of four children she lost during their divorce. Before all of this, she sterilized herself, so she was not able to get pregnant by her second husband. She was executed on January 13, 2021. 

In the Montgomery case, Pereira states that Montgomery should have been sent to a mental facility, instead of being executed. “I had not heard of this case before this, and Montgomery does seem to have committed quite a terrible crime. However as I had said before, these murder cases which people don’t really hear about are not worthy of the death penalty. Based on the information you’ve given me, I can say that she probably would be better off going to a prison and getting psychological help as her line of reasoning doesn’t seem too clear on obtaining the child, meaning she probably for sure has some issues. However, her crime cannot go unpunished, so she also would probably need to spend a considerable amount of time in prison.”

Reyes says, “I feel that what happened was very wrong and very bad, but [Lisa Montgomery] shouldn’t be put to death, even though this is a disturbing, disgusting case. At the end of the day, you don’t know what the person is going through. The person isn’t mentally stable, and could go through this instant rage. I am not justifying what she did, I just don’t think they should’ve put her to death.”

Montgomery shouldn’t have been executed in Wood’s opinion. “I read about the case; I believe she didn’t deserve to die. I think the argument from her lawyer wasn’t the right one and she died, in part, due to her lawyer’s flawed argument. Her psychological state was severely damaged.”

Corey Johnson was a drug trafficker that was sentenced to death due to murdering 7 people. 

His defense attorneys stated that him being executed would be “cruel and unusual punishment,” due to his contraction of COVID-19. His lungs, which were swollen, would fill with fluid, during his execution. He ran a crack cocaine drug trafficking ring in Virginia from 1989 to 1992. Due to competition within the drug trade, he killed 7 people. Johnson was found guilty of these murders in 1993. Johnson’s defense attorneys stated that he had an IQ of 69, which would nullify the government’s claim of him being a drug kingpin. However, the prosecutors argued that he did not show any signs that he was mentally handicapped. Also, the prosecutors asserted that the act of murdering individuals to further his career isn’t an impulsive action that a mentally disabled person would make. 

Along with Montgomery and Higgs, Pereira believes that Johnson did not deserve the death penalty, “I do feel like the prosecution would have a point in the IQ argument, as to be successful in an illegal industry such as drug trafficking, one does need to be quite smart and know how to get out of sticky situations. However as I have continued to repeat, this does not seem like a notable case which would constitute giving the generational death penalty for. While I think out of the cases mentioned in this interview, Johnson definitely committed the worst crimes, having killed 7 people, I do not believe it was enough to receive the death penalty. I will also add that for Johnson and Higgs, the added severity of the lethal injection due to them having the COVID-19  for sure is another reason as to not have killed them in my opinion, although technically there are other methods of execution as well but I am not sure of the legal status of those.”

On the Johnson case, Reyes says, “I believe that he didn’t deserve it. We shouldn’t make the decision to take someone’s life. They have to face their maker…”

She also argues, “They are still administering the death penalty no matter the acts. The death penalty never tried to be humane…”

Concerning Johnson’s COVID-19 infection and his IQ, Woods states, “A person with an IQ of 69 would be able to traffic drugs and be able to kill people, but not get away with it. I still believe due to his COVID, a drowning sensation is a cruel and unusual punishment.”

According to Anti-death penalty groups and Trump critics, Trump ordering the executions of 13 people during his administration demonstrates how he tried to boost his image as a law and order president. 

During the 2020 summer Black Lives Matter protests, former President Trump called himself the President of Law and Order, and advocated for the national guard to come into states to deal with protestors. Trump praised China and the Philippines for executing drug dealers, and advocates for the execution of drug dealers in the US. 

Regarding how Trump tried to demonstrate that he was “tough on crime” through executing 13 individuals, Pereira disagrees with the actions. “If Trump’s administration did indeed carry out these executions in a short period of time, then it definitely does not show to me that he upholds law and order. I believe that this line of reasoning is flawed, as a much more profound stance would have been to prevent the destruction of cities, something where he had many words come out of his mouth about, but not much direct action to show for. Also as I have continued to say throughout these responses, I stand by my belief of the death penalty being the very ultimate price, so I am against this string of executions of people most of us will probably never hear about.”

Reyes says, “I feel that you don’t have to kill people. He is trying to please people, while not looking at the facts or the cases. He trusted the system, and did this blindly to please his voters. He did this for publicity. He didn’t have regard for a life…”

Woods believes that the execution of 13 people by the Trump Administration, “like a lot of things Trump did, was a show of willingness to act and a show of power. I think his action was unnecessary and really didn’t achieve anything.” 

All of these executions were made before President Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. He plans on putting an end to federal executions. 

Representative Ayanna Pressley, Representative Cori Bush, among others are calling for President Biden to sign legislation that would get rid of capital punishment at the federal level on his first day as president. However, the leader of the of nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center Robert Dunham states that he would not be able to put a stop to the federal death penalty all by himself. Dunham says that a US President can either sign into law a piece of legislation from Congress calling for the abolition of the federal death penalty or the Supreme Court will have to make a ruling for the eradication of the federal death penalty, which is unlikely since the Supreme Court has a Conservative majority. 

On January 22, 2021, Representative Pressley and many other Senate Democrats wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to commute the sentences and to resentence the 49 people who are on death row.  

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain stated that President Biden will sign legislation between January 25 through February 1st that will tackle criminal justice reform. 

It is suspected that the Biden Administration could have a moratorium on federal executions and deconstruct execution chambers, similar to what California Governor Gavin Newsom did in 2019 to the state’s death penalty. 

In the meantime, Representatives Pressley and Espaillat respectively introduced legislation that would abolish the death penalty at the federal level. Senator Durbin wants to come up with legislation that will be a companion to Representative’s Pressley’s bill. Both pieces of legislation would abolish the federal death penalty and commutte the sentences of those who are on death row. 

The only way for the federal death penalty to be gotten rid of is through the passage of legislation through the Senate. However, it is unlikely that the legislation would be passed, due to needing 60 members of Congress to overrule the filibuster that would be in place to pass the legislation. There are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans within the Senate. A filibuster is when a Congress member blocks Congress from voting on legislation by holding the Senate floor. There needs to be votes from ⅔ of the Senate to pass the legislation. 

The United States criminal justice system is known for its racial bias against people of color, most notably Black people. There is shown racial bias against Black defendants over white defendants. There have been mock jury studies that have shown that Black defendants get sentenced to death more than white defendants for the same crime; usually this happens when jurors do not understand the judge’s instructions.  People of color are overrepresented on death penalty cases. White people who kill Black people are more likely to receive lower sentences than Black people who kill white people. Since the death penalty has resumed in 1977, 295 Black defendants were executed for killing white people, whereas 21 white people that have killed Black people have been executed, despite Black people disproportionately victims of crime. Out of the 57 people on death row, 26 of them Black, with some of them sentenced by all-white juries. According to the NAACP, Black people have been a part of the 35% of the executions in the US, despite being only 13% of the population. Black people are convicted and executed disproportionately more than any other race. 

Concerning racial bias in the US criminal justice system and judicial elections, Pereira states, “I believe that these studies are somewhat skewed as generally the states which maintain a higher number of yearly executions also tend to be in areas where, unfortunately, racism is more prevalent. While there are definitely issues with racism in the justice system as a whole, I believe this speaks more to the political nature that our judiciary system has taken. With judges being appointed by people with political intentions, judges can become biased and discriminate based on their world views, one of which unfortunately is the way that people see race.”

Reyes believes that the United States criminal justice system “works for the white man.” She continues, “It doesn’t benefit anyone of color. They see you as a stereotype. So many innocent Black lives and people of color have died. David Higgs was proved innocent and he was to be put to death, He was only involved in the crime, and the other person that did the crime is in custody.”

Woods agrees that the US criminal justice system has racial bias, “It is incredibly racist against Black people… The [national] criminal justice system ended up killing more black people than white people. That is an issue with the criminal justice system, not with the death penalty.”

Capital punishment is costly for many taxpayers and state governments. One of the main reasons why people are against the death penalty is due to how much money it costs for the numerous trials that death row convicts have. The state of California has to pay $150 million each year for the inmates on death row. California could save that amount each year if they abolished the death penalty, however that number relies on multiple factors. Inmates cost around $80,000 to $700,000 per year for housing, food, healthcare, and security. The longer that death row inmates are on death row, the more expensive it is for the state. 

Pereira says that statewide abolition of the death penalty should take place, due to the financial burden of capital punishment, “I think this already limited use of the death penalty in many states is a great reason to move ahead with getting rid of it on a statewide level. If we are going to spend $150 million dollars in upkeep inmates on death row, then they should either actually be executed, or not be on death row at all, with the latter being the preferable option in my mind.”

The cost for giving out and seeking the death penalty have increased, while execution rates have decreased. In Oregon and Washington, death penalty cases cost more than non death penalty cases. Colorado, Nebraska, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oregon have cited the high costs of the death penalty as why it should be abolished. Also, in Washington and Oregon, there are high rates of post conviction reversal, 79% and 75% respectively. Both of these states have moratoriums in place. There are many reasons why the costs for capital punishment has increased, including how complex and long appeal cases are (more judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are involved), expert witnesses (mental health professionals, etc), the huge amount of jurors that need to be selected, and so on. 

Wrongful convictions are another reason why many are against the death penalty. The reasons why wrongful convictions happen are inaccurate eyewitness identification; misconduct among forensic scientists or unverifiable forensic science; stress-ridden lawyers not preparing their client for trial, conjuring witnesses, or investigating the case; informants testifying against the defendant for an inducement (lesser sentence, etc); and false confessions that are coerced from police officers. Police officers can make the defendant feel that confessing to the crime is more beneficial than fighting for their innocence. 

Upon learning about the high percentages of inmates not being put to death due to post conviction reversals, Reyes’s reaction is, “Someone could have died; not only did that cost money, put family through torment, [and] put the person [through] a lot of trauma thinking that they are going to die, [but] those high percentages should encourage us to abolish it.”

Again, Pereira believes that state level capital punishment should be abolished, instead of it being abolished at the federal level, “As someone who identifies as a more conservative person when it comes to the economy, I believe that it is probably in the better interest of our state to stop spending so much on something so controversial. Thinking about it a bit more, I do think that it should be abolished on a statewide level. Based on my belief in the limited use of the death penalty, I believe that the federal government should be the only governing body which can execute inmates. If it is to be something special as I had discussed earlier, then the federal government should be the one to do it, as those executed would be a threat to the nation as a whole.”

Despite the cost, Woods believes that if someone commits a heinous crime, they deserve capital punishment. “I didn’t know that you had to go through several different trials. If the cost effectiveness is better [then] it’s an argument to be made. If someone commits murder or something really bad, I still don’t feel that they should be allowed to live. The cost is worth it for the justice.”

On ways that the government can utilize to cut costs, Reyes states, “If [prisons] grow their own food and become more eco-friendly, that would help the planet immensely, and it would be cost efficient. Capital punishment should be abolished. I wouldn’t know for sure if someone has committed that crime and many lives have been lost because of this.”

The Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that helps vindicate those who were wrongfully convicted with DNA evidence and promotes reform in the criminal justice system, supports recording the whole interrogation process that police officers have with their suspects, for at least those who are suspects in crucial cases. This will give transparency in what happened during the interrogation process, will reveal if the suspects were aware of their rights, will show the judge if the suspect is more likely  to falsely confess due to being mentally impaired, and will make sure that police officers don’t intimidate the suspect in order to get them to confess. 

Also, recording the interrogation process will have benefits for law enforcement officials. It will help make the defendant not back away from their original story that they confessed to, public confidence in the police will rise, and there will not be any room for doubt on whether the officers mistreated the suspect or not.

Already, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the FBI, and the ATF (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) are permitted to have all of their interrogations fully recorded. Only half of the 50 US States and the District of Columbia have legislation in place that mandates fully recording interrogations. Some of these states are New York, Minnesota, Washington D.C., Vermont, and Utah. 

The Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that represents those who were abused in prison or were illegally convicted. They are creating memorials and spaces that address lynchings, segregation, slavery. They hold presentations nationwide for students, educators, and religious leaders. The Equal Justice Initiative states that governmental misconduct was one of the major reasons why people were wrongfully convicted. Even with exonerating evidence that proves the convict did not commit the crime, police officers and prosecutors did not want to review the evidence or open up the case. Prosecutors, police, or judges are not liable for coercing witnesses, producing fabricated evidence, or holding back evidence. 

One argument that people in favor of the death penalty make is that the death penalty helps to reduce violent offenses. However, various studies and statements, including one from the National Academy of Sciences, conclude that there is not any evidence that the death penalty reduces heinous crimes, such as homicide. Research has shown that life in person is more of a deterrent than capital punishment. Proposals have been made, such as allocating the money used for capital punishment cases, and using it to hire and properly train police officers, to fund education, mental health services, and so on. 

Regarding the theory that capital punishment deters crime, Woods states, ”The justice system has the power to legally kill you with certain crimes. If you take that away, people will not be reluctant and hesitant to commit crimes that are punished by the death sentence. Most of the time crimes are spontaneous.”

The death penalty should only be used for those who are sociopathic, Pereira says. “Life in prison can [definitely] seem like a worse option in some cases, as it is almost a state of damnation, where you are basically forever trapped in a cell. Perhaps it is a better sentence for a majority of people who are usually given the death penalty, as many of those are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, so it is better to leave the executions to those who future generations will know about as evil people. This also goes back to the previous discussion on justice, as ultimately only those close to the victim are able to feel if justice was served.”

Concerning prisoners serving life in prison instead of capital punishment, Woods says, “I don’t know. I don’t see how practically you would keep someone in prison for them to just die there. It doesn’t make sense to keep someone in prison for their whole life.”

Another argument for the death penalty is that it offers the family that was wronged to be able to find closure and seek legal retribution against the person who committed the crime against them. 

Arkansas Representative Rebecca Petty’s daughter was raped and murdered. In the aftermath of her daughter’s killer deciding to not renounce his right to appeal, she became an activist for the families of victims. She states that seeing the executions of those who have wronged their family can help to ease them, knowing that the convict was executed. 

However, individuals who have been severely impacted by heinous crimes, including homicide, have reached out and given their opposition to the death penalty. Beth Kissileff, the wife of a rabbi that survived the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, and Mark Heyer, father of Heather Heyer, who was a counterprotestor that was killed at the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally, both argue against the usage of the death penalty for the individuals that committed crimes against them. Kissileff stated that since life is sacred, it does not make sense to take anyone’s life, even if they have committed horrible crimes. Also, Kissileff stated that the death penalty does not give the assailant time to grow out of their hateful beliefs. Heyer commented on how young the assailant was when he committed the crime, and that he was brewing in those hateful beliefs for years. 

It depends on the family if capital punishment is retribution or not, Pereira argues. “In terms of justice for the family, that is really going to depend on them. Some people seek immediate revenge, so for a murderer to get killed would be the ultimate payback. Others families may prefer life in prison, as that can ultimately be more torturous depending on how they live while in prison. I’ve even heard of some stories where the family of a victim prefers to even forgive the convict due to the family’s religious ideals. So really, to bring justice to the family really depends on what the family itself believes justice is. I don’t necessarily think that execution is hypocritical; sometimes the best punishment can be giving someone a taste of their own medicine. A historic example of this is many of the Nazi leaders who were convicted in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, and how after being executed their bodies were cremated and had their ashes taken to various concentration camps, ultimately having the same fate as their victims.”