Dylann Roof was found guilty on Thursday in the murder of nine parishioners in Charleston’s historic black church Emanuel AME Church, after being welcomed into their Bible study class. Before his conviction, Roof went back and forth about who he wanted to represent him in the courtroom—a team of professional lawyers or himself. The Associated Press reports that ultimately, lawyers took over the job of defending Roof during the trial, but Roof is in charge of the secondary section that determines whether or not he will receive the death penalty for his crimes.
The testimony against Roof is brutal and damning, as survivor Felicia Sanders described watching Roof murder her 26-year-old son. She said on the stand, “There is no place on Earth for him except the pit of Hell.”
It feels almost impossible to disagree with her, but many believe that the death penalty - as a punishment - is both a higher financial burden on the state due to the constant appeals associated with the process and an immoral act perpetrated by the government. There is also much debate on the painlessness of the procedure when conducted via lethal injection, as its most common method. The Chicago Tribune wrote up one recent example of a man who writhed and coughed throughout his execution when he should have been completely sedated.
While that may seem like a fitting punishment for a man who caused so much pain, it can be argued that the death penalty violates the constitution, qualifying as cruel and unusual punishment. However, it’s up to Roof to defend himself against that punishment now. But we would like to hear from you.