Is the death penalty cruel?

Feb 222006
Authors: Collegian Editorial Staff

In California, there's a storm brewing about the death penalty.

Michael A. Morales, a man convicted of raping and murdering a teenage girl, was supposed to be executed earlier this week. But something strange happened: Two anesthesiologists who were supposed to supervise the execution – the original doctor and a backup – backed out at the last minute, citing ethical concerns about the convicted murderer-rapist possibly suffering.

But a federal judge in California is set to examine the case and decide whether the lethal injection constitutes a cruel and unusual punishment.

It places much less of a burden on the taxpayers to put down a criminal. Instead of paying for his or her food, housing and maintenance for 50-plus years, they'd pay for maybe 20 years, a couple of doctors, the injections and whatever it costs to dispose of the body.

And then there's the distinct feeling that justice has been done; the death penalty is absolute and final.

Victims' families have been avenged, to some degree. But room for a "what if?" does not exist.

Like "what if they didn't do it?"

Though it's far from common, it has happened.

The decision must ultimately be left up to voters. Are taxpayers willing to pay insurance against this rarity in the form of countless years worth of living expenses for convicted felons?

That's a question we can't answer for you.

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