Are Executions Ever Justified?

"I'm Against The Death Penalty In All Cases"

Bud Welch spoke to the New Abolitionist about the politics of the death penalty in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

I think the most important thing we can do for the people in New York and Washington is to let them know that it's okay to be angry. You should be angry, you should be wanting vengeance-those are very normal responses.

My issue is with the criminal justice system in America and how that operates. The only ones that we kill in America are the easy ones-with the exception of Timothy McVeigh, the victims of the death penalty are minorities, the poor, the most vulnerable. The same people that are already talking about vengeance in this case are the same people who said that McVeigh is different-that attitude of "I'm against the death penalty except..."

I'm against the death penalty in all cases.

We heard our leaders, President Bush and Colin Powell, right from the beginning talking about going out and punishing them. These are the people, by the way, who didn't go to the racism conference in South Africa, and I thought that was a huge mistake. But for them, the first statements after the attacks were, in essence, the same thing as happened after the Oklahoma City bombing.

But that's not solving the problem. It may be well and good that they find them and punish them. But what we really need to do is go beyond that and find out what's the root cause. Why is this happening? Why does one human being become so angry at another human being that they're willing to become a suicide bomber against an entire people?

There's something going on. Is it that our CIA is doing things we know nothing about? We're killing children in Iraq, because they don't have access to medicine and food because of the embargo. We're killing tens of thousands of them. If I'm a 25-year-old man, and I have a little girl who's two or three years old, and she dies, and I know that she died because we don't have the medication in my country to save her life because of an embargo by another country, I'm going to become a terrorist. There's no two ways about it.

Let's find the answers to that question, and let's solve it there. That's the problem. Because the people that did these things aren't inherently bad. They've had bad things happen to them that's caused them to react this way. We have to stop the circle of violence.