Early Wednesday morning, Georgia executed the first female death row inmate in 70 years. Kelly Gissendaner was sentenced to death for her 1997 mastermind plot of having her husband killed by her boyfriend.
Let me first make some clarifications.
-I’ve been all over the place on capital punishment. Originally, I was a big supporter of it. Then I was fully against it. Now I’m neutral on the issue.
-I do believe the death penalty should be very limited, but not abolished on the federal level since the 10th Amendment would make that unconstitutional. It must be left on the state level.
Now as to why I think Kelly Gissendaner’s life should have been spared? Let’s start with her conversion. Her kids and defense attorney argue she has become a better person, having graduated from a theology program through Emory University while in prison in 2011. I give them the benefit of the doubt since her direct family members know their mother much more than I do. However, this doesn’t mean advocating giving her a chance for parole. I believe she could have been sentenced to life without parole. People forget that prison is a combination of punishment and rehabilitation. It isn’t supposed to be completely one or the other.
Kayla Gissendaner mentioned the following.
My dad would not want my mom to be executed, even knowing her role in his murder. He would not want us to endure another devastating loss.
Over 90,000 people signed a petition that asked Governor Nathan Deal to halt the execution. This case even got some international news, in which Pope Francis wrote a letter on behalf of the Vatican asking Georgia to overturn her death sentence.
Gissendaner’s boyfriend, who committed the killing, is currently facing a life sentence. To me, if it is good enough for him to get a life sentence, it should be good enough for Gissendaner to get a life sentence as well.
Now I understand that supporters of the death penalty in this individual case argue that it wouldn’t be fair for Gissendaner to keep breathing and living while her husband cannot. However, what would get accomplished from killing her? It won’t bring him back.
The death penalty can be a very divisive issue, an issue even conservatives can be split on. I look at each individual case and ask myself “is this person rehabilitated, sorry for their actions, and a given threat if locked up for life.” I believe in this case, it was unnecessary to kill Gissendaner, and her death sentence should have been commuted to life without parole.
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