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A Second Look At The Death Penalty

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A Second Look At The Death Penalty


I still remember back in 1988 sitting in a Chinese restaurant when then-Gov. Bill Clinton took a napkin and listed on one side the Democratic governors who were against the death penalty and, on the other, those who were for it. In its time, the issue was the third rail in American politics — the line that divided those who could win because they were considered tough on crime and those who would face electoral problems. A few years later, my friend Kathleen Brown was trounced in the governor’s race in California in large part because she opposed the death penalty.

Things have changed. Kathleen’s brother, Jerry, is now California’s governor. Barack Obama is now president. And last week, California’s new and very conservative chief justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, told a reporter that she had come to question the death penalty not because she thought it immoral for the state to take a life, and not even because she thought it might be administered to those who were in truth not guilty, but because it’s too expensive and ineffective.


  1. JTM December 29, 2011

    The death penalty has long been proven ineffective in reducing crime, and the costs of appeals is staggering. An inmate can be kept in prison for life for less than the cost on one apellate lawyer’s salary.

  2. mistleto December 29, 2011

    The death penalty does NOT deter crime! It never has and never will. “Crime deterant” has only been successful as an argument used by opponents of the death penalty. The only valid argument that should ever be used in favor of the death penalty is: “Does it protect society from the criminal who it is used against”? Based on that argument, the death penalty is 100% effective. The real problem with the death penalty is how it has been implemented, not in its effectiveness. That can and should be changed.

  3. pvk-also December 29, 2011

    In my mind, anyone who claims to be a Christian, and yet supports the death penalty, is a true hypocrite. The First Commandment says “Thou shalt not kill”. I didn’t read or hear of any exceptions in that, did you?. If you’re a Christian, honor Jesus’ words… ALL of them, not just the ones you like.

  4. thekevmeister December 29, 2011

    I don’t recall ever reading about Jesus rebuking the civil authorities for any kind of punishment, but Paul does declare in Romans that the civil authorities (which are called ‘rulers’ in the text) are “… the powers that be are ordained of God…” Rom 13:1 (KJV). Paul goes on to say in verse 4 that

    “… 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.”

    So, without being branded a “hypocrite” one can make the argument that as Christians, we are not to seek revenge upon others for their crimes, but we are to recognize that the civil authorities have the right to “bear the sword” which in Paul’s day of the Roman Empire, meant death.

  5. thekevmeister December 29, 2011

    I hit submit too quickly; I also wanted to clarify that I have my doubts about the effectiveness of the Death Penalty as well, escpecially that of its finality. But, it does seem that we provide air conditioning, education and cable T.V. to prisoners, ones who should really be “paying a debt” for their crimes. However, having said that, I’m sure that I would have a differing opinion if I were to find myself behind bars.

  6. Vermont-View December 29, 2011

    Absolutely rubbish! Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s comment on why she had come to question the death penalty:

    “Not because she thought it immoral for the state to take a life” I don’t know where her morality comes from, not from any respect for the sanctity of human life.

    “Not even because she thought it might be administered to those who were in truth not guilty” So she even thinks it’s OK to kill innocent men and women (who by the way were probably not well represented in court)
    “But because it’s too expensive and ineffective.” Well yes, it is too expensive, wastes time, money, and resources needed for better things. And yes, it is ineffective. Personally, I’d rather just get poisoned or fried than to spend my life in prison with no chance of parole.

    But for whatever reason she has used, I guess we can use her on our side!

  7. jimmyags December 29, 2011

    I was very much in favor of the death penalty until i met a man who was on death row and had been proven innocent almost 2 decades later. This man had been scheduled for execution 3 times, once coming within days of it. Proponents always bring up the argument of “what if your loved one was a victim”? Let me ask you this, what if your loved one was the one facing execution for something they didn’t do? would you still favor getting rid of all the appeals? The bottom line is,our system is based on the belief that it is better for 100 guilty men to go free than for one innocent person to be executed. Are we going to throw away that belief in the name of cost cutting?

  8. redruby1941 December 29, 2011

    A number of years ago a man had been convicted in California for the rape and murder of one girl who he took from an ATM and killed in the Angeles Forest. A second woman had escaped and lived to testify against him. When a reporter questioned the murderer about which sentence he would like to have carried out he calmly said the Death Penalty. The reason was because he would be put into Death Row and not mainstream prison population; he had better access to his lawyers; more access to the Prison Library and more than a decade to fight this sentence and perhaps even get it overturned at a later date. Just look at the amount of heinous criminals who were on death row for decades. They grew old there. Unless the death penalty is carried out as a deterrent, quick and without decades of appeal after appeal then life without possibility of parole is far better. Otherwise then the convicted should be put into mainstream prison population until the appeals are exhausted and then they go to death row. It isn’t being used as it was intended; for the last and final moments of the convicted and sentenced person. It is just a better way for the criminal to bide his time under better conditions and without the threat of prison rape or consequences. It is high time that the system is changed.

  9. DrTrenga December 29, 2011

    To the one who quoted one of the Ten Commandments, it’s a shame when people do not truly understand scripture and then try and quote it. 1st your quote is 100% wrong, read the scripture first – it says Thou shall not commit MURDER – it does NOT sat “not kill” we kill at every war and God Himself has ordered the killing of whole nations.
    2nd Ahypocritee is someone who proclaims to follow Christ but lives like the devil, not someone with a view.
    3rd The deatpenaltyty is Biblical (I have a Doctorate iTheologygy).

  10. DrTrenga December 29, 2011

    To the one who quoted one of the Ten Commandments, it’s a shame when people do not truly understand scripture and then try and quote it. 1st your quote is 100% wrong, read the scripture first – it says Thou shall not commit MURDER – it does NOT say “not kill” we kill at every war and God Himself has ordered the killing of whole nations. 2nd A hypocritee is someone who proclaims to follow Christ but lives like the devil, not someone with a view. 3rd The death penalty is Biblical (I have a Doctorate in Theology).

  11. DudleySharp January 2, 2012

    All prospects of a negative outcome deter some and death is feared more than life and life is preferred over death – all trusimsT he death penalty, the most severe of criminal sanctions, is the least likely of all criminal sanctions to violate that truism.

    1) 28 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

    2) “Deterrence & the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock”

    3) “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”

    4) This is out of date, but corrects a number of the misconceptions about deterrence.
    “Death Penalty and Deterrence”

    5) “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”

  12. DudleySharp January 2, 2012

    You will find more than 30 crimes/sins, for which God deemed the death penalty appropriate or mandatory, the majority of which were invoked after the Ten Commandments were presented.

    There is a 2000 year record of Saints, Popes, religious leaders, biblical scholars and theologians speaking in favor of the death penalty, a record of scholarship, in breadth and depth, which overwhelms any claims to the contrary.

    Please review some of those:

    All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.

    God/Jesus: ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ Matthew 15:4 full context (NAB) http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew15.htm

    “Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars”

    Christianity and the death penalty

    Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer: “. . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy.” (p. 116). ” . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect.” (p. 111-113) “A Bible Study”, Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992.

  13. DudleySharp January 2, 2012

    no matter how i tried, not do websites turn into links. Nothing works as the site states.


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