The Death Penalty Is No Solution

"I'm Against The Death Penalty In All Cases"

By: Marlene Martin

The tragic events in New York and Washington, D.C., occurred just as we were going into production on this issue of the New Abolitionist. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this nightmare.

But within hours of the attacks taking place, President Bush was vowing to catch the perpetrators and punish them.

These statements sounded eerily familiar to those we heard earlier this year when the U.S. government executed Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh's execution was meant to bring "justice" and closure to the families of the victims. But as we said then and say now, the death penalty didn't prevent this crime, and it's not a solution to it.

The hijackers who carried out the attacks in New York and Washington were suicide bombers, so clearly death wasn't a deterrent. Nor will executing Osama bin Laden (if he turns out to be connected to the attacks) prevent future attacks.

But the use of the death penalty in these high-profile cases strengthens the system of capital punishment for everybody else. We must remember that most of the people who get the death penalty are nonwhite and poor. The tragedy in New York and Washington does not change the fact that our government allows the death penalty to continue knowing that it is carried out almost exclusively against the most vulnerable in society.

The comparison to Oklahoma City brings up another point. In the rush to judgment after the Oklahoma City bombing, Arabs were targeted in a series of racial attacks. The same thing is happening today-with more than 200 attacks against Arab Americans already reported one week after the bombing. We should speak against these attacks.

I talked to Bud Welch a few days after the tragedy. Bud lost his daughter Julie in the Oklahoma City bombing and became an outspoken opponent of the death penalty. I asked Bud what he would say to family members who lost loved ones-and whether he thought revenge was the right answer to the attacks in New York and Washington.

Click here to read related article from Bud Welch.