By Eric Melter
On Friday, July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred inside of a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises. The shooting occurred in theater 9 at the Century 16 multiplex (operated by Cinemark), located at the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall at 14300 E. Alameda Avenue. Prosecutors said Monday that they will seek the death penalty for James Holmes, the man accused of gunning down 12 people and wounding 70 at a Batman movie last summer in Colorado. “’It’s my determination and my intention that in this case, for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” he said at a hearing.’ (http://usnews.nbcnews.com). Judge William Sylvester of the Colorado circuit court entered a plea of not guilty for Holmes last month after his lawyers said they were not ready to plead. The judge left the door open for lawyers to mount an insanity defense. Many of us may not have been aware that the death penalty was even an option. That is because in Michigan, the Death Penalty Information Center reported in 1963 the death penalty was banned. Michigan’s history with death penalty includes 13 executions.
The real question is, should we make one exception and go against the law created against the death penalty? District attorneys seek the death penalty for two reasons: because the victims want it or in hopes of getting life without parole anyway. No one wants Holmes to have it easy the rest of his life, but killing him would stoop to his level. “There’s a reason 17 states have abolished the death penalty. It isn’t used often outside of Texas, and there’s a legitimate alternative to death: life in prison, especially life behind bars without any chance of parole.” (www.gardian.co.uk). Some might argue it’s better to die than live like a caged animal for the rest of your days. Holmes’ freedom is gone forever, and he cannot harm anyone else. What Holmes did cannot be undone and now because of him, twelve people will never grow older or see the milestones of their loved ones. But an execution, a decade or so down the road, is unlikely to bring peace to most of the families or the community Holmes forever changed. So in the long run, no, I do not believe the death penalty is the answer. Life in prison is perhaps slightly more lenient, but it’s about justice and not about what the people think he deserves.