As a former U.S. student, I am lucky enough to have never had the experience of hiding in
the back corner of a classroom, trembling with fear and hoping that an active shooter would
not open the door.
My parents are lucky enough to have never gotten a text from me telling them I love them
and that there is someone armed and with ill intent on my campus. We are lucky to not be a
family at one of the 35 schools this year alone in the United States that have been faced with
American students should not be fearful for their lives attending school every day. The fear
and the anxiety expand past graduation day. I can tell you that even in a country scarce with
school shootings, I am still making a plan in my head every time I enter a school setting.
The Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, 2018 emphasized the danger that many schools
across the U.S. face, and their need for higher safety measures and preparedness for
My California high school had active shooter drills. The sound of that bell is etched in my
mind. It sounds like any other school bell, but my school had the philosophy that bells
interrupt the learning environment and didn’t have regular bells during the day. The tone
does its job and readies my body for flight, fight or freeze.
It has been nearly five years since Nikolas Cruz, now 24, entered Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed 17 people, injuring 17 more. Cruz
pleaded guilty to the mass shooting.
After a six month sentencing trial, a jury of 12 recommended that Cruz be sentenced to life
in prison without the possibility of parole on Thursday, Oct. 13 of this year. The jury was
asked to decide whether Cruz would receive the death penalty or life in prison.
The death penalty could only be given with a unanimous decision by the jury, and was
overruled by the votes of three jurors.
The choice the jury had was tough, with either side as controversial as the other. They
were bound to get backlash no matter their decision.
Responses from the families of victims, such as “today’s ruling was yet another gut
punch,” and “I pray that that animal suffers every day of his life in jail” illustrated the
devastation some felt at the news that Cruz would not be put to death.
No one deserves to die. Not the 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Not Nikolas Cruz.
Cruz committed heinous crimes and took children from their parents, but death is too easy
a punishment. Instead, Cruz will live every single day for the rest of his life in prison.
I know the saying is “an eye for an eye” and that avenging murders is a tale as old as time,
but no person deserves to die. The goal of the criminal justice system should be to help
people learn their lesson, not to kill more people.
I don’t think that any punishment is harsh enough for Cruz. Yes, he may have stayed on
death row for a number of years waiting for his execution date, but during this time he could
appeal the sentence and that date could be pushed back and back. The victims would be
waiting for closure, constantly reminded of their trauma.
I want Cruz to live the rest of his life serving his time. I don’t want that time to be the few
years it takes for an execution.
He will never experience freedom again. Cruz will suffer for the rest of his life rather than
the mere minutes it takes for a death sentence to be carried out.
Execution as a form of punishment in the U. S. should have been abolished decades ago,
but being put to death seems to have been the consequence of choice for centuries when it comes to crimes as heinous as mass shootings, and remains an option in over half the states in the U.S.
Over 70 per cent of countries worldwide have abolished the death penalty, including
Canada. Countries where capital punishment still exists tend to have large populations and
The U.S., despite being a liberal democracy and having allies that have abolished the
death penalty, still executes prisoners every year, innocent or not.
My argument is not that Cruz should not be let off easy, but that putting people to death
should never be the solution. I could talk for hours about the U.S. criminal justice system, but
for brevity’s sake, all I will say is that things need to change to make the system more
By avoiding the death penalty, Cruz’s victims can hopefully know that Cruz will be getting
the punishment he deserves.
I feel saddened for the families that feel justice will not be served. I can’t imagine the grief
of losing a child at the hands of someone else.
However, I am content that Cruz will spend every day at the mercy of the U.S. prison
system rather than being released from life relatively soon.