On Friday, the 1000th person was put to death since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. Is this something we should be proud of? Is this really 'justice,' or is it an act of revenge? While 76 countries allow state sponsored death penalties, most of those nations do not execute criminals with any regularity, and 97% of all known executions from 2004 happened in China, Iran, Vietnam, and, sadly, the U.S. Is this really the company we want to keep?
Polls show a majority of Americans support the death penalty. I wonder why this is in a mostly Christian nation. Many will quote scripture, saying an "eye for an eye." Is it convenient to forget "vengeance is mine (the Lord)" or "Thou shalt not murder"? Or to forget that everything Jesus preached goes against bringing harm to anyone, even an enemy? Why do I know so many who are "pro-life" but also "pro-death penalty?" I'm simply confused by all this, so forgive me for bringing this up.
Many will say that the death penalty is a deterrent for violent crime. Where is the evidence to support that? We have had record years of murders since 1977, so that argument is not much of one. If someone is so enraged that he or she is capable of taking someone's life, it is more likely that they are not thinking clearly about anything, including the consequences of their actions. Will a drug lord or gang-banger really be deterred by the possibility of a death penalty, when they live each day with the possibility of much worse suffering at the hands of rivals?
Then there is the 'what if' response. What if my wife was murdered...would I want to see the murderer put to death? My reaction if that were to happen would certainly be, "Yes, and I'll do it myself!" But if I were to do that, I would also expect to go to jail for I, too, would have just murdered someone, and I would then be no better than them. This sort of action would just be an act of revenge. In fact, when I think about which is worse punishment, I would rather be put to death than have to serve life with no chance of ever seeing daylight again, where one would go day to day for years and realizing your life is absolutely meaningless at that point...I, for one, would lose my mind in that situation, and it would be unbearable.
Is it still right for us to lecture other nations (such as China) about human rights issues, as the president recently did when he was in Asia, when we practice some of the same things as thsoe nations do? We lose some of our moral authority and standing in the world as we continue to put people to death, and I do not enjoy seeing the U.S. in this position.