The Michigan Death Penalty Scale

The Michigan Death Penalty Scale

We can get so caught up with on on-going issues here in Michigan (roads, water, schools, etc.) that it’s easy to forget some of the reasons we have for taking pride in our state. Recently we marked the 172nd anniversary of Michigan becoming the first English-speaking government to abolish the death penalty. Even more impressive, we have not changed our minds about this since.

Sure, there have been periodic efforts to legalize capital punishment in some shape or form. But to our credit, Michigan has resisted the emotional appeal and stayed the course. As the cartoon illustrates, there are many practical and moral reasons to be against capital punishment. While reasons to be for it are largely emotional.

That said, I can totally understand — even empathize with — how weighty those emotional feelings can be. The Larry Nassar case provides a perfect example. After reading about and listening to the testimony of his victims (and considering their ages and sheer numbers), I have to admit the death penalty crossed my mind. (That’s a caricature of me, by the way, jumping up and down on the FOR side.)

But it comes down to this: How can we write the laws so they are air-tight? How can we apply them evenly? How exactly would the convicted be executed? How much would it all cost? And how can we be absolutely sure?

It says something positive about our state and ourselves that we have decided to go with reason over emotions. Because at any given moment we all can feel very pro-capital punishment for, say, slow drivers in the passing lane.

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