W. James Antle III wrote in The Week:
Some crimes are so heinous, there is no other just punishment for them.
For an example, look no further than the trial of Dylann Roof. Roof has confessed to murdering nine innocent Americans during a prayer service at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. He killed them in cold blood while they prayed, in premeditated fashion, because of the hatred burning in his heart.
Many of the common objections to the death penalty do not apply in Roof's case. There is no doubt about his guilt. "I went to that church in Charleston and I did it," he confessed with a laugh. "Did you shoot them?" a law enforcement officer asked. "Yes," Roof replied, laughing again.
Sentencing Roof to death would not illustrate structural racism. Quite the opposite. It would enhance racial justice and signify progress in a region of the country where the state did not always protect African Americans from racist murderers. It would be a public affirmation that black lives matter.
Wielding the noose infrequently makes its occasional uses a more powerful statement of our society's intolerance of certain acts of evil without allowing it to devalue life itself. Consider the countries that do not normally have the death penalty but executed Nazi war criminals. Osama bin Laden's death would have been an act of justice even if he could have been apprehended peacefully.
Murder is a gruesome and barbaric business. Its perpetrators deserve the ultimate punishment. But a society must try to balance its power and right to impose that penalty with its need to avoid becoming an accomplice to murder itself.
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