Saturday, November 15, 2008

To die or not to die..

Capital Punishment. The Death Penalty.

Sigh. Ugh. Groan. Grrr. Okay, shall we move on...
Note: Some statements that are made could/will make you mad. It doesn't mean I believe everything I type... Just trying to throw both "sides" out there. 

One of the girls in my Communications class did a speech on capital punishment, pro death penalty. I listened to it, not fully agreeing, and then realizing I never reallllly thought about it like that before.
So -- for or against it? I'm not really sure.

Do we really have the right to make that choice in the first place? 

Florida is among the 38 states that believe capital punishment is the just punishment for a murderer. Our state is out there killing someone that killed someone else. How does that make sense? What message does that send:
We are murderers ourselves? 
Or we are protecting society, just incase they escape or get parole? 
Or we are saving money by not locking them up for the rest of their lives? 

More times than not, I am sure that the family of the loved one who was murdered doesn't feel any better when the murderer is executed. Who would really? Just because the murderer is now dead doesn't bring your loved one back. It doesn't change the hurt and the pain you've experienced. It's still going to be there, only now another family is going through what you went through, due to the death penalty. Yes, I know murdering someone is wrong and that person should be punished -- BUT -- killing in response? What about the eighth amendment? Cruel and unusual punishment...

But eye for an eye right.. it'll make criminals now think twice about committing a capital crime. We need to get justice. How can it be considered a "life-sentence behind bars" if the victim didn't even get to live out his/her own life. To serve justice, the person that ended the life of another person should have to pay with their own life in return. 

On the other hand, the death penalty is irreversible. Once it's done, it is done. Since DNA testing, numerous "murderers" were freed. They were NOT the murderers. They could have been killed for someone else's crime. How is that just? It denies an individual any chance of benefitting from new and improved technology that may provide evidence to later prove their innocence. 

So, where is the line drawn? Should we even have a say in killing someone? Or do we protect society? Our minds should be made up before it could happen to us or someone we know. We can't make decisions based on every situation or feeling or emotion.

"Are victims' family members really healed by the death penalty, or are they re-victimized by a criminal justice system that exploits their pain to keep voters happy and makes promises it cannot keep?" (


uthpastorjj said...

very clearly, Scripture lays out a definitive argument for capital punishment. In many cases, do we see the "eye for an eye" argument, however, never more clearly then in Leviticus 24 where it says:

17 " 'If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death. 18 Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution—life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. 21 Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death

Of course, there's always the issue of how do you know you have the right person. I remember using the case of Willie Darden in high school as a reason against capital punishment. To this day, many think he was innocent of the crime.

Some people complain of our system taking too long to bring murderers to justice. I, on the other hand, want us to take our time to ensure that we have the right person before implementing capital punishment.

Robin said...

I don't know... if we are to follow Leviticus 24 in that sense, why don't we follow the rest of it-- "as he has injured the other, so he is to be injured"? If someone shoots a person in the leg but doesn't kill them, why don't we shoot them in the leg as punishment? To me, it doesn't make sense to follow part of that passage but not the rest... just the first impression I got.

Also, why did Jesus stop the people from stoning an adulterous woman to death? That law is found in Leviticus as well, that an adulteress and adulterer must be killed-- yet, Jesus stops the stoning of such a woman in the book of John.

Plus, I know that our justice system is pretty messed up, and there is an immense racial bias-- especially when deciding on the death penalty. I have heard that since 1977, blacks and whites have been the victims of murders in almost equal numbers, yet 80% of the people executed in that period were convicted of murders involving white victims... to me, this implies that whites' lives are somehow more "valuable," which is sooooo wrong and unjust. And sentencing is not consistent at all... there are TONS of murders each year (I have heard around 22,000), but only about 150 of these murderers receive the death penalty.

So that's some of why I don't personally agree with the death penalty, off the top of my head. I am, of course, no expert, but this is just the logic I use behind my stance. "The antidote to violence is love, not more violence..."

uthpastorjj said...

Actually, Robin brings up a valid argument. One of the dangers that we must steer clear of is picking and choosing the OT Scriptures we want to apply to our NT world.

I'm not so much discouraged by the punishment "as he has done" argument as I think the application there is the punishment must fit the crime.

However, a much more compelling argument is earlier in chapter 24 when the Lord tells Moses to take a man who has cursed Him outside the camp and stone him. This is then instructed to be the punishment for anyone who curses God.

Obviously, today, we wouldn't think this grounds for capital punishment (the cursing of God). So yes, in effect, I am arguing against my own logic.

I agree partially, too, that there is a danger of racial inequality when it comes to the death penalty. This is what compelled me to take up the case of Willie Darden in high school. I don't think the statistics bear out a true understanding of the complexities of the application of the death penalty. But, it is obviously a system that still needs tweaking.

That being said, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If the application is a problem, then we deal with the system problem. IF it's the punishment itself that is the issue (and I wouldn't classify our current version of capital punishment as violent), then we must deal with that.

Great argument, Robin, way to think this through. We haven't gotten to the bottom of it, but it's compelling for sure.