Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Editor’s take on the Death Penalty.

Does the State ever, under any circumstance, have the right to deprive a person of his or her life? My own religious tradition, recognizing the authority of the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek Testaments of the book commonly called the Bible, answers yes. I shan’t go into a biblical defense of the death penalty since I intend to speak against the death penalty.

Although I am not against the death penalty in principle, I am against it in practice. Allow me to explain. This study review shows the extent of the problems our present legal system has with properly administering the death penalty. Read it carefully and allow it to sink in. Any system that results in 68% error respecting capital cases has serious problems that, in my opinion, render it incompetent to fairly adjudicate such cases.

One of the complaints often proffered by defenders of the death penalty is the tremendous expense and waste of time consumed by individuals on death row in the appeals process. Many want that process shortened. This study, however, shows why, in my opinion, limiting the appeals opportunities of the condemned will only exacerbate an already bad system and assure that more individuals will be executed erroneously, not fewer. Given the finality of death, the present state of affairs argues against the imposition of the death penalty.

What are the alternatives? We could expand the appeals process for individuals on death-row which would only increase the expense to tax-payers and expand the time between imposition and execution of the death sentence in the hopes that this will assure that all errors are found before execution. We could declare a moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty and replace it with life-without-possibility-of-parole until we can be certain that either errors are eradicated from the system or, barring that, that all errors are certain to be caught in whatever appeals system is in place. In my opinion, the erroneous execution of even one individual is unacceptable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Although I am not against the death penalty in principle, I am against it in practice."

Same here, Rev! (That was easy.)


12/21/2004 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Forbush said...

The state also deprives a person of his life when the state forces a person into the military and subsequently the person dies in battle. This happened all the time through out history. The state paints it as patriotic, but the truth is: "If you would rather not serve its difficult not to."

Back to the death penalty. The state has the right to do what it's laws say that it can do. If the law exists then it can be done. Slavery is proof of this.

However, Christians should be against the death penalty because Christians believe that a sinner can always be saved. Taking the opportunity away from that person should make us all feel sick in our hearts. This means that we are allowing the state to condem this person to not only death but eternal damnation. So, if sinners that have not turned to Jesus should not be put to death, then should sinners who have turned to Jesus be put to death? Does that even sound like a Christian thing to do? Should we beg a sinner to turn to Christ so that we can put him to death?

Christians who believe in the death penalty do not believe in a culture of life. Support our President in the culture of life and be against the death penalty!

12/21/2004 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

A Christian should be for, in principle, at least, whatever God prescribes in His Word. That God aproved of the death penalty in certain cases and with certain safe-guards is undeniable. Your comments have the sound of truth to them but do not hold up to God's truth.


Exodus 21:22-23 "22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life".

Romans 13:1-5 "1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."

However, agreeing that God aproves of the Death Penalty in principle, does not mean that a Christian must be pro-capital punishment.

12/21/2004 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I have very little to add. I am opposed to the death penalty on principle and in practice though. I do not feel that a government should have the authority to kill its citizens no matter how heinous their crimes and no matter how carefully scrutinized their trials. Even in the case where we are 100% certain about the facts of a person's crime, if a person is put to death that reduces our society to a revenge-based society which is far from the ideal. There is no doubt that people should pay for their crimes; however, it should not be the state's responsibility to make them pay the ultimate price. Serving a lifetime in prison is more than adequate punishment in all cases.

12/23/2004 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


Just wondering, I agree that for protecting society and for punishment, life in prison without parole is sufficient but what about justice? Does not this call for death for death without resorting to revenge as the motive for the death-penalty...assuming we could ever be 100% certain of guilt? Just wondering.

12/24/2004 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but I agree. On every point. Oy, cognitive dissonance!


12/27/2004 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Samantha said...

Interestingly, for the death penalty to be administered in the Mosaic law, the person who was convicted could be so only on the testimony of two eyewitnesses, who themselves had to throw the first stones. That is an interesting safeguard.

12/28/2004 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Would not taking a person's right to freedom and (let's face it) personal safety away for the entire remaining duration of their life be justice? An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

12/31/2004 08:42:00 AM  

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