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Death Penalty Conversations in the Car

This is the time of year when Saturday’s are dedicated to soccer games. With our ten year old playing in Bernalillo and our nine year old playing in Albuquerque that means a lot of drive time. This in turn can lead to some interesting conversations.

Take for instance this last Saturday. I don’t remember how it started (maybe something was reported on the radio), but the conversation turned to the death penalty. The kids didn’t really understand at first what the death penalty was all about. My wife dutifully explained then the conversation went something like this…

Nine year old: Well, I don’t think we should have the death penalty, because I don’t think Chris Brown should be put to death.

Wife: No, Chris Brown couldn’t get the death penalty because he didn’t kill anyone.

Nine year old: Oh.

Ten year old: Well, I think Radio Disney should stop playing Chris Brown songs.

Me: Sounds like a good idea.


Nine year old: I don’t think anyone should get the death penalty. They should just go to jail.

Me: Really?

Nine year old: Yeah, you shouldn’t kill people.

Me: Well, what if someone killed your brother, would you want them to go to prison for life or get the death penalty?

Nine year old: Dead [not even a second of hesitation].

Me: I thought you didn’t want the death penalty.

Nine year old: But, that’s different.

Ten year old: No, it’s the same thing.

Personally, I support the death penalty. If there is a petition to put the repeal of New Mexico’s death penalty before the voters, I’ll gladly sign it. And, if the referendum makes it to the ballot, I’d vote to bring it back. For me, it’s not just about if a family member was murdered. If the bodies that were found on the West Mesa are the result of one killer, and that person is found alive, then I think they should get the death penalty.

With that said, I’m on record as saying that the death penalty is an issue were I don’t believe there is a clear-cut right or wrong answer.