There is no doubt about Nikolas Cruz’s culpability for the mass murder of 17 people and the injury of 17 others at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. His horrific actions affected many more than those who were injured or killed and will leave a lifetime scar on far too many people. He absolutely must be held accountable for this tragedy. The death penalty, however, is the wrong way to do so, for several reasons.
On May 23, 2022, the Supreme Court issued yet another decision that does greater injustice to the US criminal (in)justice system. It ruled that state prisoners cannot submit claims of inadequate counsel to federal courts, thereby adding yet another barrier to those on death row who are seeking relief amidst serious concerns that justice was not served.
The death penalty is an antiquated and barbaric method of punishment in any case, regardless of whether the offender is clearly guilty. But in cases in which there is any doubt, the state’s urge to kill is particularly grotesque. Yet the state of Texas is poised to execute a woman who in all likelihood did not commit the crime for which she was sentenced unless radical action is taken before April 27, the day Melissa Lucio is scheduled to die.