Throughout high school and early college, I was outspokenly pro-death penalty. I was a firm believer that some mistakes were unforgivable, and punishable by death. I believed that murderers, rapists, et cetera should have their life taken from them for committing such a heinous crime. And I viewed these criminals as if they weren’t human beings with a heart, soul, family, and even friends. When I began viewing these criminals as humans, my feelings drastically changed.

See, I knew that they were humans who had made a mistake, but it’s easier to view them as their crime rather than as human beings, when thinking about the death penalty. After taking time to reflect on my views, I realized that I held them because I thought that stance was expected of me, and I’m not quite sure why I believed that. 

Now, I am pro-life from womb to tomb. I believe that everyone deserves a chance at life, and shouldn’t have it taken from another. There are two sides to why I believe this, though. One comes from the perspective as a Christian, and the other as a conservative. Let’s look at the subject at hand through each lens.

First, the Christian approach: 

Different branches of Christianity view sins differently, but I believe that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. I also believe in both His forgiveness and His call to Christians to forgive one another. I believe that humans should have until their God-given dying breath to become a Christian, and we should not get in the way of this by sentencing them to death. As a Christian, I am aware that I sin and fail each and every day. I wouldn’t want to be punished for my sins in a way that denies me the ability to ask for forgiveness and repent from them. By sentencing criminals to death, we are taking away their opportunity to repent and refusing to offer forgiveness even though Christ calls us to forgive. We are also taught by God that sinning doesn’t fix a sin. Just because the government is at the forefront of capital punishment through the death penalty, doesn’t mean they’re free from sin when they sentence someone to death. Sentencing a murderer to be murdered by the federal government is just as bad, in my opinion, as the original murder. I believe these criminals should be punished for their crime, and even spend a life in prison, but they should not die at the hands of the U.S. government. I believe as a Christian, that I am called to love this sinner and hate their sin in the same way that I am called to love each and every other sinner on this planet. Jesus was the only perfect being to walk this earth, and even He didn’t cast the first stone. It’s God’s duty to punish these criminals, not the government’s duty.

Next is the conservative approach:

It’s evident that our criminal justice system isn’t perfect. Prisons are full of Americans who committed petty crimes years ago, yet received longer, more brutal sentences than they deserved for their crimes. Others are incarcerated for a crime they never committed. Time and time again we see where our criminal justice system fails, so why should we trust them to make the decision of whether or not someone deserves to die? Our system is far too flawed to make such a call. I also believe that conservatism includes the right to life, even life in prison, over death by the government. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are rights that we are granted that should not be taken away under any circumstance. While one can argue that happiness cannot be pursued in prison, it’s easier to be happy in prison knowing that you have the right to a long life, than knowing that your life can be taken as soon as it’s your turn to be executed. My conservative beliefs also include being pro-life, and being “pro-life” and “pro-death” is wildly hypocritical, in my opinion. Conservatives often distrust the government, but we should be able to trust one another to remain consistent in our beliefs regarding the right to life. While one is innocent and the other is guilty, we never know who that child will grow up to be, or how that criminal can change in prison. From a fiscally conservative standpoint, sentences ending in the death penalty cost tax payers millions more than life without parole sentences. In the same way that I support defunding Planned Parenthood as a conservative because I do not wish to see my tax dollars used to murder, I support the abolishment of the death penalty. 

I believe abolishing the death penalty is something that Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve in my lifetime. Life and death should not be politicized, ever. I’m thankful for my friends on both sides of the aisle that challenged me to dive deep into my views on the death penalty and come to the conclusion that I am pro-life from womb to tomb.

Whitney E

Whitney is a senior majoring in communication at Mississippi State University. When she's not preparing for law school, you can find her online shopping or planning a trip to Disney World. She loves Ronald Reagan, traveling, and all things preppy.