The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Op-Ed | Bowers’ verdict continues the endless cycle of violence

A+makeshift+memorial+stands+outside+the+Tree+of+Life+Synagogue+in+the+aftermath+of+a+deadly+shooting+in+Pittsburgh+on+Oct.+29%2C+2018.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh on Oct. 29, 2018.

Last month, Robert Bowers was sentenced to death for committing the worst antisemitic attack in US history. As a senior studying psychology and criminal justice at Pitt, I feel burdened with the knowledge that a death sentence is only the beginning.

If the prosecution had not sought the death penalty, we would’ve had closure. Shame on them for valuing a notch in their belt over seeking restoration. The federal government declined Bowers’ initial offer of a guilty plea, which would have prevented him from appealing the charges. With 63 counts including hate crime resulting in death, he would have been guaranteed life without parole. He would rot in prison, leaving myself and many community members a sense of closure through a fair system. A life sentence wouldn’t have diminished the impact of his crimes, but instead showed our commitment to a system that will heal our wounding community.

I want to express my compassion for those who lost someone, the jurors, the community leaders who gave it their all and the court staff, who were all forced to participate in a process where the outcome is not the justice many of us wanted. I also thank the jurors for their service. We never should have put them through this. It is unfair they will carry the weight of making this decision forever, especially because most death sentences in PA are overturned due to flaws in our justice system. Now, Bowers’ next step is the appeal process, and our community will be tortured moving forward.

A death sentence might seem like the perfect recipe for revenge, especially for one of the most heinous acts of violence we’ve seen, but the psychological impact in participating in such a decision will last longer than the trial. The emotional distress, questions of morality and the guilt will still linger.

While I can never fully comprehend the emotional turmoil for all parties involved, my empathy for them drives me to advocate for a justice that fosters healing rather than perpetuating a cycle of violence. We deserved a break from the horror of constantly reliving the sickening event.