Comment: “An eye for an eye”, but where does it stop?

Everyone knows the famously coined phrase “an eye for an eye”, but when it comes to the death penalty, to what extent should this mantra be applied?

First, define the death penalty. The death penalty is described as “punishment by execution”, or in other words “killing someone to teach them a lesson”. This form of “justice” hardly seems fair to all. Human beings, as a species, are so complex we cannot just be categorised and put into boxes based on our actions. Nothing is black and white and unfortunately, the death penalty has forced the world into that state of mind for years.


Let us review Teresa Lewis’ case as an example of how complicated and controversial the death penalty can become, when the justice system treats everyone as equals. Lewis was the first woman to be executed by lethal injection in 2010. She was found guilty of the murder of her husband and stepson in October 2002 in order to claim life insurance.

However the case caused controversy over her mental capacity as Lewis had an IQ of just 72.  A mere 2 points above the national mark that would have deemed her intellectually disabled. This factor should have made her treatment substantially more lenient. However campaigns to pardon her and revoke the execution due to this fact were unsuccessful. Lewis was executed on the 23rd of September 2010. This sparked nationwide outrage, but like most cases, died down after a few weeks.

The question now becomes why is the death penalty not being reviewed? Why do we, as a society of people, still believe that the death penalty is an acceptable way of punishment?

The reason behind this state of mind is the crimes committed in order to be put on death row. Although Lewis could be seen to many as mentally frail, she was above the mark and therefore, did not qualify for mental disability or any of the benefits. Not only that but she committed first degree murder of her husband and son. The reason why she was tried for the death penalty was for her crime, not her personality. Unfortunately, although the criminal justice system can be faulty and may seem skewed or outdated, it is made to seek justice against men and women for their actions and crimes, “justice is blind” as they say, and this dictum will be applied at all times, for all. If we swayed and made exceptions for every special case there would be no law, no order.

To conclude, whether one is for or against the death penalty, it will always be an ongoing debate. It’s tough to reach a conclusion as to whether or not the death penalty is truly a justifiable punishment, or if justice should be formed around individuals and their situations. Many will argue that it is inhumane to kill someone, just as they have killed. Others will argue that it is a perfectly fair punishment, as families have lost loved ones to killers; why not do the same? The debate could last for centuries to come, but the law will continue to filter out murderers, unfazed by their personal cases or their life stories.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily endorsed by The Update. We encourage anyone who would like to send an opinion piece to sign up in the ‘About Us’ section of the website.


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