Let’s make this clear right now. I flat out oppose the death penalty.
This isn’t something recent. I’ve been against it for decades. Though some advocates for the death penalty will say it is a deterrent to crime, there doesn’t seem to be any less crime in states where they apply the death penalty than states where the don’t.
There are a whole host of reasons to oppose the death penalty. Some of them include:
- Racial and economic disparities in sentencing
- Wrongful convictions
- High costs related to trials for capital punishment cases
Theologically, the gospel eschews a retributive justice model. It overlooks the possibility that there is power in Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all people. There is also an overriding respect for life. Furthermore, Jesus saved the life of the adulterous woman from being stoned to death. (John 8:3-11)
Capital punishment is state sanctioned killing. When someone is tried for a crime, the charges are the people against the perpetrator. Thus, the people indirectly impose the penalty should the perpetrator be found guilty. The state executes the perpetrator on my behalf. I reject that.
The botched execution in Oklahoma was horrible. It also wasn’t the first botched execution. I listened on and off to various commentators this week. I read news articles. All of them made me angry.
The death was tortuous. It was hardly peaceful. It seems that the normal supply of drugs was not available to the state because traditional suppliers refuse to provide their products to kill people. Oklahoma experimented on the prisoner.
They tried to insert the catheter in a vein near the groin. I read that it is not an easy location. Besides, it violates the person’s privacy. While inserting it there can be done, it apparently should have a qualified medical person to do it. A trained medical technician or doctor may not have done this.
The death sentence already is an ethical violation and a moral failure. The surrounding issues serve to underscore this violation and failure. The botched attempt the other day should be the wake up that this form of punishment, which by my book is already cruel and unusual, has no place in our nation.
And yet, Oklahoma was not chastened by this. Governor Fallin will pause executions to learn from this tragedy only to resume them again.
I would think that the problems related to administering the death penalty, both its fair application and its procedural administration, would deter states from using it as punishment. But, no. Why do we insist on using it?
When I look at the list of states where capital punishment is legal, many of them are perceived as having a relatively religious culture compared to the rest of the nation. It doesn’t reflect well on their faith values. It’s certainly not a culture that affirms life.