Capital Punishment - Retain or Not?
This essay tangles with the question of whether or not we should retain the death penalty within the American code of penal law.
There is a feeling of frustration and horror that we experience at the senseless and brutal crimes that too frequently disrupt the harmony of society. There is pain which accompanies the heartfelt sympathy that we extend to the victims' families who, in their time of suffering, are in need of the support and compassion of the whole community. Nothing will ever bring their loved ones back. Quite clearly, such violence is to be denounced vehemently.
Appropriate measures should be employed to safeguard our community and reduce the incidence of crime. The guilty should pay the penalty for their actions. At the same time, however, we as Christians also consider it our duty to question the suitability of retaining the death penalty within our penal system.
Today, in our nation more than 2,500 human beings await execution. As throughout history, so in our day, a disproportionate number are poor people and members of minorities. In Delaware, eight persons have lived on death row for some time. Also Steven Brian Pennell was executed after a highly-publicized series of crimes(Steven). We believe that this event in the state of Delaware requires that we as a community once again re-evaluate the use of the death penalty in the light of our conviction that life is a gift of God.
Though the state has the right to inflict the death penalty, we question whether the state should exercise the use of that right. In a world filled with violence, one more act of violence, we believe, only serves to make society less sensitive to the intrinsic value of human life. Usually, punishment is meted out to criminals as an example to deter others from acting in a like manner; or to allow an opportunity for the convicted individual to reform; or for the sake of retribution. However, it seems that the deterrent value of capital punishment is, at the most, doubtful; that the plea for...