The death penalty is one of those issues that's near and dear to my heart. I went through the process of losing a loved one to random street murder, having the police tell me they were sure THAT GUY did it even though he was never tried for my relative's murder, then seeing him sentenced to death.
Ultimately, his sentence was commuted during the death penalty back-and-forth that went on in the 70s. I have always been grateful for that.
I learned some hard lessons from the whole experience, too. The first lesson I learned was that killing that man who maybe was my relative's murderer would bring me no peace with the fact that I lost that relative.
The second lesson I learned is that there's no guarantee the guy they said committed the murders ever did.
The third lesson I learned is that blaming the black guy with zero evidence other than a "similar MO" is something that happens all the time.
And the best lesson I learned is that moving through the process of letting it go and forgiving whoever pulled the trigger is an amazingly freeing thing to do. Clinging to a need for "closure" -- a term without a definition ever -- just prolongs grief, anger and frustration.
With all of that said, I wholeheartedly disagree with Hillary Clinton on her death penalty stance. On this, Bernie Sanders has the right idea:
"When we talk about criminal justice reform, I believe it is time for the United States of America to join almost every other Western, industrialized country on Earth in saying no to the death penalty," Sanders said during his speech on the Senate floor. "We are all shocked and disgusted by some of the horrific murders that we see in this country, seemingly every week. And that is precociously why we should abolish the death penalty. At a time of rampant violence and murder, the state should not be part of that process."
Sanders' remarks come one day after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is also running for president, came out against ending capital punishment, adding that she believes the use of the death penalty should be "very limited and rare."
Sanders' reasons are sound, but beyond that, I've never understood the reasoning behind using murder as a weapon against murderers. There's too much fallibility baked into the system, too many opportunities for injustice. There is nothing limited enough and rare enough to ever justify it. It's expensive, time-consuming, keeps attention on the crime, and doesn't actually administer justice.
Bernie Sanders is right on this and it would behoove Hillary Clinton to follow his lead.