The death penalty debate came to the forefront of public discourse in the last few months with controversial court cases such as Troy Davis’. Last week’s Seal Beach massacre is a reminder that heinous crimes that show utter disregard for human life merit capital punishment in certain cases.
Last week Scott Dekraai walked into a beauty salon in nearby Seal Beach with three handguns and murdered whoever came into his line of sight, notably his ex-wife and the mother of his young son. Eight people died, including a man who was sitting in his car outside of the salon.
The evidence against Dekraai is undeniable. The fact he had threatened his wife before the shooting and walked in with body armor on proves this was not a sudden mental break.
The rampage was a premeditated, callous act and his intent was to kill. If he is found guilty, death is the most suitable penalty. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas agreed when he announced last Friday prosecutors would seek the death penalty against Dekraai.
Though there is no conclusive statistical data regarding whether the existence and implementation of capital punishment is a deterrent of violent crime, if just one person were deterred from carrying out a similar crime by the execution of someone like Dekraai, it would be worth it.
Another common argument against the death penalty is that the state could potentially be killing someone who has been wrongfully convicted.
This is a valid point, as there have been a significant number of death row inmates exonerated since 1973 — 138 as of October 2010 — after evidence of their innocence was produced, according to DealthPenaltyInfo.org.
Many of these cases, however, had doubts to begin with. In cases such as Troy Davis’ — who many still purport to have been innocent at the time of his execution — there were no eyewitnesses, shaky DNA evidence and as the evidence was circumstantial at best.
But in cases such as Dekraai’s, such conclusive evidence removes doubts about his guilt.
When the evidence provides no gray areas or doubts in brutal crimes, the punishment should fit the crime.
Death is a powerful thing, something that should not be underestimated. Just as the deaths of Dekraai’s victims will forever impact those that knew and loved them, the death of Dekraai could leave a lasting impression of our intolerance of evil and our respect and reverence for human life.
Sarah Cueva is a sophomore majoring in political science. Her point runs Fridays.