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Thoughts on the Death Penalty

283. Thoughts on the Death Penalty

I have strong feelings against the death penalty. I have read extensively about it. I was on a task force to abolish the death penalty in the United Methodist Church in the Greater New Jersey Conference. For the churches in that conference I wrote a six-session study curriculum. All of those activities contributed to my strong feelings. Here are five reasons:

1) As a matter of faith, I believe that all life, every life, has value. When one person commits a horrible crime, I think we need to remove that person from society. And it may be necessary to keep the person separated from society for the rest of his or her life.

2) The death penalty is not a deterrent. Studies in fact have shown that crime rates go up after an execution and that crime rates are lower in states that do not have the death penalty.

3) The person who is executed is rarely the same person who committed the crime. Change happens in the years that it takes for appeals to be finished, and we find that the person who was convicted is now different.

4) Mistakes are made in courts and there is always the possibility that we are executing a person who is innocent of the crime. In the Easter season we experience that reality—of an innocent who is put to death.

5)  By using the death penalty society says: this person cannot be redeemed. And yet we know that there are people in prison, people on death row who have turned their lives around and ended up spending the rest of their life in prison but making their life count for something. To give up on a person is to give up on God’s ability to change that person.

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