On Valentine’s Day 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the scene of a brutal school shooting that killed 14 students, three staff members and injured another 17.
Earlier this month, the terrible person behind the attack, 24-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was sentenced to a life in prison after “a Florida jury rejected prosecutors’ appeals for the death penalty,” according to ABC News.
Following the denial of this appeal, parents of the victims were devastated, arguing that their children are dead and the one who killed them gets to live – and honestly, I’m on their side.
How is it fair that Cruz will not suffer like his victims did? Manuel Oliver, father of victim Joaquin Oliver, stated that he “ha[s] to deal with the fact that this guy… is going to have a chance to have a hobby, and enjoy three meals and, you know, read every single day.”
Some, however, argue that a life sentence is worse than the death penalty. Senior management major Domenic Roccasanta said that “life is prison is more torturous for the person than…the death penalty.”
But in my opinion, Manuel Oliver has a point. Why should Cruz be able to shower every morning, receive hot meals and even pick up courses to become more educated if the 17 people he brutally killed do not?
Niklas DeSantis, a senior business major, says that the death penalty is worse and is warranted for crimes like murder. The way I see it, taking a life is appropriately punishable by the murderer’s life being taken from them.
Of course, with a life sentence, the person is going to die in prison anyway, but before that, they could receive medical help in order to prolong their life for as long as possible.
Peter Wang, a 15-year-old victim of the shooting, has a cousin, Chen, who commented on the effect on the victims’ families after the sentencing. She stated that Peter’s mother’s life “has changed forever,” and they have tried “believing [that] the system would help [them], but it didn’t.”
Almost all of these families feel incredibly failed by the system, and some could not even go into court due to the emotional damage of losing a loved one so horribly.
Sparing Cruz from the death penalty creates another problem even bigger than these families, though. They believe that this sentence will “send a bad message to future school shooters,” making them think that if they do what Cruz did, they may not be sentenced to death.
Some parents of victims even said that future murderers may be following the story and planning their next attack, knowing that they might be able to get away with just living the rest of their life in prison.
I personally believe that this is incredibly unfair. As mentioned earlier, Cruz now has several opportunities within prison to arguably have a decent time.
Whoever runs the prison might not even put Cruz in with the general population for fear that he will be killed by other inmates. He may be protected by this system, rather than facing a harsh consequence for such a heinous crime.
Whether you believe in the death penalty or not, I think people have to believe in a punishment that is worse than just a life sentence for someone as heartless as Cruz.
Photo courtesy of Sora Shimazaki, Pexels.