Do lifers have the right to die?

Hundreds of prisoners serving life sentences in Italy have called on President Giorgio Napolitano to bring back the death penalty.

Sentencing someone to death for horrendous crimes is an act of justice. But keeping them alive through the life sentence can be bad for both the convicted and the state. Life sentence means for many prisoners the end of life itself as they have to keep locked in tiny cells the rest of their lives. They have little to hope for as their horizon is limited. There are cases of people who commit suicide because of continuous depression and hopelessness. Lifers must have this feeling.

For the state, they remain just a burden on the treasury and the taxpayer, especially those put in maximum-security prisons.

If in some countries, euthanasia is allowed for the terminally ill patients. Hara-kiri is a ceremonial of ending one’s life. In Japan, more than 30,000 commit suicide annually. A lifer should have his/her wish fulfilled if they should to change their life sentence into a death sentence. Keeping them alive itself amounts to torture. Such prisoners should have the right to choose between life and death as they are sentenced just to waste themselves inhumanely like keeping an animal in a cage.

Life sentence or death sentence will always remain problematic. Abolish or restore death sentence? Abolishing both death and life sentence for a limited period of imprisonment? There will be no easy choice by the legislators and the public. Lifers must have their choice respected, to die or keep alive till the last breath.

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