Con: Why the NAACP's Robert Rooks is against the Death Penalty
1 year ago
'How Many Innocent People Have We Executed?'
In our 'Pro vs Con' series, we ask two experts to weigh in on a hot button topic. For our first installment, we tackle the death penalty. In the aftermath of Troy Davis, the nation's support of the death penalty has dipped to it's lowest approval rating in 39 years.
Robert Rooks, National Criminal Justice Director for the NAACP, explains why he is working tirelessly to end the death penalty.
What is your stance on the death penalty? Why?
I am against the death penalty for several reasons: One, I believe innocent people have been executed and that is unacceptable. Over 130 people have been exonerated from death row. An innocent life is a price too high to pay when life without parole is an option. No one should be comfortable supporting a system that has taken an innocent life. Two, the death penalty is costly. A death penalty trial costs three to four times more than a trial of life without parole. Three, the death penalty is arbitrary. The sentence you receive is based on where you live and your economic status. Two people can commit the exact same crime and get two completely different sentences—that’s a horrible system to use when taking a life.
Are there any exceptions?
Do you think the death penalty is applied equitably across the races? Why or why not?
It is not applied equally on two fronts: A disproportionate number of African Americans are on death row. I believe the number is somewhere around 42% of people on death row are African Americans. The death penalty is also racially disparate when it comes to the victim, meaning the race of the person who was murdered. A person is more likely to get the death penalty when the victim is white, than when the victim is black, building on an obvious value system that was put in place generations ago.
Would a proven inequity challenge the justice of using the death penalty? Why or why not?