World Day Against The Death Penalty 2017 is on Wednesday, October 11, 2017: Death Penalty?
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 is World Day Against The Death Penalty 2017. Commemorate World Day Against the Death Penalty Death Penalty. World Day
I supported capital punishment for a long time, but I have changed my stance over the years, for several reasons:
1. By far the most compelling is this: Sometimes the legal system gets it wrong. In the last 30 years, over 100 people have been released from death row after years of imprisonment because they were exonerated by DNA evidence. Unfortunately, DNA evidence is not available in most cases. No matter how rare it is, the government should not risk executing one single innocent person.
Really, that should be reason enough for most people. If you need more, read on:
2. Because of the extra expense of prosecuting a DP case and the appeals process (which is necessary - see reason #1), it costs taxpayers MUCH more to execute prisoners than to imprison them for life.
3. The deterrent effect is questionable at best. Violent crime rates are actually higher in death penalty states. This may seem counterintuitive, and there are many theories about why this is (Ted Bundy saw it as a challenge, so he chose Florida – the most active execution state at the time – to carry out his final murder spree). Personally, I think it has to do with the hypocrisy of taking a stand against murder…by killing people. The government becomes the bad parent who says, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’
4. There’s also an argument to be made that death is too good for the worst of our criminals. Let them wake up and go to bed every day of their lives in a prison cell, and think about the freedom they DON’T have, until they rot of old age. When Ted Bundy was finally arrested in 1978, he told the police officer, “I wish you had killed me.”
5. Most governments are supposed to be secular, but for those who invoke Christian law in this debate, you can find arguments both for AND against the death penalty in the Bible. For example, Matthew 5:38-39 insists that violence shall not beget violence. James 4:12 says that God is the only one who can take a life in the name of justice. Leviticus 19:18 warns against vengeance (which, really, is what the death penalty amounts to). In John 8:7, Jesus himself says, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Anti or Pro Death Penalty?
Here is an article from a person who lost a loved one to murder. Link at the bottom. She supports the death penalty:
By Kathleen M. Garcia
The state of New Hampshire is studying the death penalty through its study commission, so I want to share the view of the surviving families – from a state that struggled with the death penalty for a quarter century and hadn’t carried out an execution in 40 years before finally giving up on it.
Make no mistake – I am a conservative, a victims’ advocate and a death penalty supporter. But my real life experience has taught me that as long as the death penalty is on the books in any form, it will continue to harm survivors. For that reason alone, it must be ended.
I’ve spent the last two decades of my life fighting for the rights of crime victims. It’s a mission I began after a terrible murder in my own family. The death penalty is no abstract concept to me – I’ve had to confront it every day since 1984, in my work with countless families that have been impacted by the sudden trauma of homicide.
Three years ago, New Jersey conducted a study of its death penalty system like the one New Hampshire is conducting now. One of the questions put to the commission was the impact of the death penalty on homicide survivors, and I was selected to serve on the committee as a victims’ advocate. It is my opinion, as well as the view of other long-standing victim advocates throughout New Jersey, that our capital punishment system harmed the survivors of murder victims. It may have been put in place to serve us, but in fact it was a colossal failure for the many families I serve.
I don’t have any compassion for murderers and believe they deserve harsh and certain punishment. In real life, the death penalty doesn’t work that way. The courts scrutinize death penalty cases more than any other. I understand why they do that – once an execution happens it can’t be reversed, and we already know the system has made mistakes. Truly, not just technically, innocent people have been exonerated after spending years on death row.
But the result of that extra care is a process that takes years, and in many cases, decades. The criminal justice system is hard enough on survivors. When the death penalty is added to the process, the survivor’s connection to the system becomes a long-term and often multidecade nightmare that almost never ends in the promised result. The details of the crime are replayed over and over in the press with each appeal. The defendant is turned into a celebrity.
I have watched too many families go through this over the years to believe that there is any way to make the system work better. Even in those states that do carry out executions, most cases are reversed at some point. I’ve known people in New Jersey whose entire childhoods were lost waiting for an execution that never came. They endured multiple trials, as well as the additional trauma each one created in their fractured lives, leaving them feeling revictimized by the very system they once trusted to give them some sense of justice. Meanwhile, families with differing opinions on the death penalty are divided at the moment they need each other most.
Added to this traumatizing process is the sad reality that the true needs of homicide survivors are often forgotten and ignored. While well-intentioned people defend capital punishment “for the victims,” surviving family members are left to grieve in silence, without access to ongoing services, peer support, or affordable, specialized counseling.
Of the many hundreds of survivors I’ve worked with, I found most were not focused on the perpetrator literally losing their own life, but on the criminal justice system ensuring they would no longer have the opportunity to harm another person, their family or have the freedom to view anything but prison walls for the rest of their life.
I now believe that the death penalty must be ended and replaced with life without parole, a harsh punishment that provides victims with the swiftness and certainty they need at a fraction of the cost in terms of dollars and human suffering by homicide survivors.
New Hampshire has the opportunity to stop this before more families are subjected to this painful system. As a society, we will continue to fail victims’ families until they have the services they really need to heal as best they can.
Every dollar we spend on a punishment that harms survivors is one we are taking away from the services that can address the emergent and long-term needs of all victims.
Kathleen M. Garcia is a victims’ advocate, an expert in traumatic grief and served on the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission.
Death penalty hurts – not helps – families of murder victims
Link available at
Why are Christians against the Death Penalty when the Bible clearly states that the Death Penalty is needed?
"I cannot believe in a God who metes out hurt for hurt, pain for pain, torture for torture. Nor do I believe that God invests human representatives with such power to torture and kill. The paths of history are stained with the blood of those who have fallen victim to “God’s Avengers.” Kings, popes, military generals, and heads of state have killed, claiming God’s authority and God’s blessing. I do not believe in such a God." Sister Helen Prejean
" One area of law more than any other besmirches the constitutional vision of human dignity… The barbaric death penalty violates our Constitution. Even the most vile murderer does not release the state from its obligation to respect dignity, for the state does not honor the victim by emulating his murderer. Capital punishment’s fatal flaw is that it treats people as objects to be toyed with and discarded… One day the Court will outlaw the death penalty.
Permanently. " William Brennan, late Supreme Court Justice, Roman Catholic
" In Texas, we’re executing record numbers each year. Things have gotten so bad because people have all been silent and let things get bad. We are told many times that we are not supposed to forgive – that when people do horrible things to us we should do something just as bad in retribution. Those of us who know better – those of us who know the power of forgiveness – need to speak up. Every chance we get, we need to challenge the mentality that compassion is a weakness. Compassion is the toughest thing of all, but it’s the only thing that works to restore peace in our lives."
Carol Byars, whose husband, James Hapney, was murdered in 1977
The eye for an eye statement is in the Old Testament and that's not what the Bible intends Christians to follow. It was included to show that through salvation you can overcome the hatred and segregation in the Old Testament, and follow the compassionate example of Jesus.
The Bible explicitly suggests that those who are the most hated among us are those who we should seek to communicate with and help. To kill anyone is murder and thou shalt not kill includes everyone.
The ignorant attitude of southern states' government towards the death penalty, which let's face it where were lynchings took place, is one of resignation from hope and of hatred and division.
The system in the United States is tragically and irreparably broken. For every 62 death row prisoners, 1 is released. In-depth studies prove that at least 39 executions have been carried out since 1976 (reinstatement of the death penalty, Gregg v. Georgia, SCOTUS) in the face of extreme evidence of innocence.
As the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun said, "The execution of a person who can show [their] innocence comes perilously close to simple murder."
There's nothing Christian about murder, and state-sponsored murder is just that. What is Christian is forgiveness and compassion, and it's what Jesus spoke of.
As James Madison, father of the Constitution, said "I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment."
Also what Thomas Jefferson said "I shall ask for the removal of the sentence of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me."
"An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind." Gandhi
" Life is the great primary and most precious and comprehensive of all human rights … whether it be coupled with virtue honor, and happiness, or with sin, disgrace and misery, the continued possession of it is rightfully not a matter of volition; … [it is not] to be deliberately or voluntarily destroyed, either by individuals separately, or combined in what is called Government." Frederick Douglass
Most importantly, as Jesus said, "Whomever of you is without guilt, cast the first stone."