The student news site of Day Creek Intermediate School

The Day Creek Howl

Is The Death Penalty Right?

Should+criminals+be+subject+to+the+death+penalty%3F
Should criminals be subject to the death penalty?

Should criminals be subject to the death penalty?

image credited to Montana L.

image credited to Montana L.

Should criminals be subject to the death penalty?

Nick L., Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






On June 17, 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people at an African Methodist Church.  This  January, he was convicted of nine counts of murder and sentenced to death. The death penalty, the consequence that executes convicts for committing heinous crimes, is one of the most disputed laws in our country’s history.  This charge is applied to cases ranging from aggravated child rape to capital murder.  Although this punishment is permitted in 31 states including California, many are disgusted by the idea of ending another life as retribution.  Others, however, support this penalty as a fair means of justice.

I interviewed Assistant Federal Public Defender Tiffany Nocon, a defense lawyer who specializes in defending the accused criminals on Death Row in the state of Nevada.  Nocon is a staunch opponent to the death penalty.

In my interview with Nocon, she stated that as she continues to work in death penalty cases, she had become more and more convinced that death penalty is unconstitutional, as it defies the 8th Amendment, which addresses a prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.  

“It is a cruel and unusual punishment. The way the death penalty is carried out in most states is through lethal injection, and right now, that system is not working.” Nocon said.  “When we do lethal injections, we don’t have doctors doing it, because doctors took an oath that they would not do things like that, so we have people who are not qualified and not knowing what they’re doing, and it causes the death to be painful, and that’s how we have so many botched executions.”  

This unconstitutionality is one of the main reasons she became a Federal Public Defender. “I don’t want this country to continue to have an unconstitutional form of punishment without fighting,” Nocon said.

However, Nocon suggested that the moral dilemma, whether it is right to end the life of a felon, is the hardest question regarding the death penalty.  Although her clients do deserve to be punished for their misdeeds, she does not believe that the death penalty is the right way to find retribution, and that it is downright immoral.  

“I think it’s immoral, because it’s so arbitrary. In order for something to be moral, there has to be a set of rules and guidelines… so we can conform our behaviors to whatever we believe is moral,” Nocon said.  “I [also] don’t think that anyone deserves the death penalty; I have yet to come across a case where someone deserves to die because I don’t think we deserve to kill people.”

One argument in support of the death penalty is the perception that taxpayers are paying more for a life-in-prison sentence than for an execution.  However, Nocon says the “death penalty costs more money, because, when you’re on Death Row, you’re in solitary confinement pretty much all the time, and you require a higher level of supervision.”  That doesn’t take into account the massive bills the death penalty accumulates, due to the numerous trials and appeals each case renders.  Even in the state of Texas, which by far has the most capital punishments in the nation, each execution costs about $1.2 million versus $693,500 for 40 years of life imprisonment.

In fact, Nocon claims that the death penalty doesn’t benefit anybody, as “it costs the taxpayers way too much money, it makes the people who are in prison worse off, and a lot of times people say the death penalty helps the victim, [but] I’ve talked to a few victims families, and they haven’t told me that they feel they are better off.”  For these reasons: morality, constitutionality, and costliness, she is against capital imprisonment.

For the opposing viewpoint, I interviewed Rancho Cucamonga’s Supervising District Deputy Attorney, Robert Bulloch.  Bulloch embraces the death penalty as a respectable and important law.  A former Major Crimes specialist, Bulloch is a former prosecutor for death penalty cases, earning the nationally recognized Outstanding Advocacy in Capital Litigation Award.  

“I have a lot of respect for the death penalty, and I think that it should be used sparingly.  It should be used when we have the worst of the worst kind of individuals that commit some just terrible, terrible crimes.  I don’t think that it should be used a lot, but it should be used when justice requires it,” Bulloch said.

Bulloch feels that the death penalty is “absolutely” constitutional.  “The Constitution itself talks about the death penalty.  I’m familiar with the Constitution and of course, the first Ten Amendments, and a lot of people that are opposed to the death penalty talk about the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  But, within the original text of the Constitution, it talks about certain crimes just being terrible and all the founding fathers … would agree that there are certain crimes, for example treason, that the death penalty is warranted,” Bulloch said.

But, Nocon counters that the guidelines for what’s constitutional change over time.  “The reason why I don’t buy that argument is [there are] a lot of things are constitutional that we no longer approve of, like slavery.  So, just because we’ve been doing something for a long time, or because the Constitution has allowed something for a long time doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Bulloch also disagrees with Nocon with the opinion that the death penalty is immoral.  “Well, there’s a number of reasons.  First of all, it’s legal.  Second of all, it’s been widely accepted; it’s not cruel and unusual.  If it’s used in the appropriate circumstances, for the most serious crimes, I think society has a right to express its indignation and non-acceptance of certain types of behavior.  And, obviously, when we’re talking about the death penalty, we’re talking about behavior that just is such that there is really no way of apologizing for it.  It’s just so bad, so gruesome, so over-the-top, that you basically surrendered your right to be a citizen,” Bulloch said.

But, aren’t there ways to limit a criminal’s’ rights besides death?  Preventing them from voting?  Restricting their freedoms?  Life without parole?  According to Nocon, “The death penalty cases last for decades. The average amount of time a person spends on Death Row is usually about twenty years.”

In writing this article, I interviewed two respectable lawyers with opposing viewpoints, Death Row Defendant Tiffany Nocon and Major Crimes prosecutor Robert Bulloch.  But, after careful examination of the death penalty, I still cannot shrug off my own beliefs of the value of life.  So, personally, I find the death penalty too immoral and too contradictory for me to respect this twisted punishment.

Why do we murder the murderers to prove murder is wrong?  Do we steal from the thiefs?  Do we bully the bulliese ?  Do we beat the beaters?  There is nothing more irrevocable and ultimate than death.  So, to condone death as punishment violates everything that I value.  Let’s rethink the death penalty, and change this convoluted law.  Let’s not kill the killers, but instead, punish them in a more ethical and commendable manner.

But, as it stands, the death penalty is legal in 31 states.  We live in a democracy where not one viewpoint defines the rules, but that is the beauty of this country, and I must respect those who advocate opposing views, no matter what those are.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Skate Express? Knott’s Berry Farm? Really?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Side Hugs? Or Rejection?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    A Tribute To Marshawn Lynch

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    What’s The Deal With Participation Awards?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Triggered Much?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Is Slang The New English?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    National Holidays: Yay Or Nay?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Is Social Media Corrupting Young Brains?

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Shhhh…. It’s A Secret

  • Is The Death Penalty Right?

    Opinion

    Failure Is An Option

The student news site of Day Creek Intermediate School
Is The Death Penalty Right?