Many people say that those who commit crimes should be aware of the consequences of their actions, including death. I say, what gives police officers, or citizens who feel they can take the law into their hands, the authority to sentence someone to death with a split-second decision.
According to the fifth amendment of the US Constitution found on Cornell Law Schools website, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury..,” Therefore, the police should not have the authority to provide a death sentence. They should arrest those they find breaking the law and provide them with a fair trial. The amendment continues to say, “…Nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” It goes against the amendment to murder somebody without allowing them due process of law, so why are we as a society not outraged by the amount of murders happening, especially recently, from police officers?
For some who commit crimes, it’s a casual event or a daily occurrence, however for others it could be the difference between life and death. So why do those who say, “they had it coming”, pick and choose which crimes warrant death and which do not? People speed daily when they’re late for work or just in a hurry, others jaywalk on campus to save time, some steal, some drink underage, some take part in illegal drug usage. We don’t constantly fear for our lives when we take part in the aforementioned illegal activities, though that technically makes us a criminal right? It’s because we know we have a right to a fair trial, not death for breaking the law, so those who say “oh well they were a criminal they should have known the consequences” need to change their ways of thinking. I could probably guarantee those who say that those who have lost their lives unjustly “deserved it” commit crimes daily and would probably be very upset if a police officer pulled them over for speeding and used unjust force instead of giving them a ticket.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the following is part of the law enforcement officer code of ethics, “As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice..,” I have yet to see anywhere in either of these documents that police officers should warrant a death sentence to those they deem to be criminals. The code of ethics goes on to state “…I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities,”
The fifth amendment clearly states that breaking the law should result in arrest and a fair trial so therefore, officers who choose to use unnecessary force and take others’ lives into their own hands go against their own code of ethics as well as the fifth amendment. As a society we need to hold police officers to a higher standard. Crime does not warrant death. Those who break the law should be arrested, given their constitutional rights, and receive a fair trial. Officers need to face punishment for murder, because murdering somebody in cold blood, whether they did something illegal or not, goes against the fifth amendment and the officer code of ethics.
If someone is deserving of a death sentence, a jury will decide and proceed in a legal way. If they are not, they will face other repercussions for their actions. Giving somebody a death sentence without a trial seems like something someone with too much power would do, in my opinion. How can one, with good conscious, decide in a split-second decision, without a trial, decide whether someone deserves to live or die?