Friday, December 02, 2005

Cruel and Unusual

Early this morning we killed a man because he killed two people. He was the one-thousandth person to be executed since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that we have a constitutional right to kill as long as the method is not cruel and unusual. The court should have ruled that we can execute a criminal only if we can prove that our justice system is 100-percent infallible. Had that been the court's primary concern we would not have killed a man this morning or any one of the 999 people before him. And, we would not be preparing to kill the next person at 6 PM today.

We have executed many innocent people and we will continue to execute innocent people because we are not infallible. I remember an execution that was almost stopped too late. The gas chamber was sealed. The pellet was dropped. The man was dying. Then the phone call. He was saved but only by risking the lives of the execution team. Did this man feel the process was neither cruel nor unusual? If he had been Gary Gilmore, we could not have recalled the bullet. Once the trap door is released we can not prevent a broken neck. Once the switch is closed we can not reverse the current’s damage.

Only three countries used capital punishment more than we did in 2004 – China, Iran and Vietnam. How have we been able to demand more Human Rights in these countries while we are executing our citizens? Is there a better example of “the kettle calling the pot black”?

We have executed children. We have executed the retarded. This is not justice. This is hate and convenience. Our own crime statistics prove that capital punishment is not a deterrent. I wouldn’t support capital punishment no matter how much the process might be “sanitized”. Killing is wrong. It is the desperate act of a society that knows neither how to prevent crime nor how to rehabilitate criminals.

At 6 PM Eastern, South Carolina will execute a man. Please pause at 6 PM to pray for this dying man. Pray that he repents his sins and accepts Jesus. If you agree with me then pray that he is the last person we will execute. If you disagree with me then imagine yourself as the executioner standing in the death chamber and at 6 PM Eastern, imagine your hand closing the switch.


........... said...

Joe, I don't care for capital punishment either, and I do tremble for anyone who has taken a life unjustly, surely God knows. But without capital punishement, as a Christian, there is no cross, no salvation, no atonement. Jesus died on a wooden cross, the Roman form of capital punishment. As a Christian, I believe the Bible sanctions capital punishment whether I agree with it or not. Jesus' death being an example & from what I have understood this verse to mean (Romans 13:4) What do you think?

Joe said...

The crucifixion of Jesus was not justified by his acts. It was not punishment due him. It was a sacrifice by him for the salvation of all men. Man could not pay for his sin by dying on the cross. Not then. Not now. The cross was never used by man to serve God.

The Old Testament tells of many acts of punishment of man with death by God. Sometimes, by a direct act of God but often, by God acting through man. Then Jesus came to save men. With love not punishment he taught us to obey.

If I could be assured that no innocent person would ever be executed, I would still disagree with capital punishment. Since innocents have been executed and will continue to be executed, you should also disagree with capital punishment. Killing a guilty man serves no purpose. Doing so at the cost of only one innocent life is criminal in itself. Technology has proven that more than 100 men on death row were innocent. We don’t have the technology to challenge the evidence against every death row prisoner. Thus, I believe there is at least one innocent man waiting to be executed. Will you sacrifice him for the right to execute the guilty?

Laura said...

I agree 100% with what Joe writes above. Capital punishment serves no purpose whatsoever. I believe that only God has the power to take a life. He gives us life and he takes it away in His time.

........... said...

Good points Joe,
I understand that Jesus willingly and sacrificially went to the cross, but that doesn't change the fact that the cross was a form of Roman capital punishment.

You said,"Since innocents have been executed and will continue to be executed, you should also disagree with capital punishment." That's throwing the baby out with the bath water! If a government elected police officer kills one innocent man on the city streets (which happens more often than capital punishment)should our government strip all police officers from their right to use deadly force?

How many innocents have died during war? Does that mean our government should never send another soldier into battle?

Laura, you said "I believe that only God has the power to take a life. He gives us life and he takes it away in His time."
Does our government's police have a right to kill to protect its citizens and up-hold the law? Does that Soldier have a right to kill to defend and serve his/her country? If so, then your statement cannot be true.

We live in a fallen world, and in this fallen world God has given the authority to government to execute justice (Romans 13:1-4) and in certain times, that means taking a life.

I'm curious, what do you think the government should do with Saddam Hussein? What if Osama is caught? Does a government then have the right to exercise capital punishment? Or should they be "rehabilitated"?

Joe said...

The Romans built and maintained an empire using slave labor. Does that justify slavery? I agree that crucifixion is a form of capital punishment but I don't agree that nailing Jesus to a cross justifies killing criminals.

I shudder at your comparison of the baby and the bath water to capital punishment and an innocent life. Is an innocent life to be wasted like used bath water?

There are two possible reasons why a policeman would kill an innocent man. It was either an accident or murder. Policemen use deadly force only to protect themselves or others from an imminent deadly threat. If an innocent man is executed it is not an accident, it is wanton negligence - a criminal act. The executed man is not an imminent deadly threat; society has alternatives.

A soldier, like a policeman, is a protector not an executioner. The purpose of our armed forces is defense not punishment. They defend our country from attack. Outside our borders they defend others from genocide and enslavement. On the other hand, Saddam and Osama employ executioners. They are very willing to waste an innocent life to achieve their objectives and to ensure that they and their interests are protected.

We execute to punish; to slake our thirst for revenge. Not to protect. Not to deter.

The foremost concern of our government is the individual. His freedom. His protection. His right to life. America makes sacrifices to protect every individual. Individuals are not sacrificed to protect America.

Yes, John, I don’t think that Saddam and Osama, if we catch him, should be executed. Nor do I believe that either can be rehabilitated. I won’t take another’s life for convenience or satisfaction.

........... said...

I agree with your first statement about slavery, good point. I wonder about the two criminals being crucified in the midst of Jesus, one even going as far as saying, "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds."(Luke 23:41) Not that that statement justifies capital punishment, but I wonder why Jesus would have stayed silent(just thinking out loud in my head.)

My comparison was not meant to be that an innocent life should be wasted like bath water. It is, does the US government have the authority to protects its citizens on the streets, in foreign lands, and in the courts even if there is a chance an innocent life may be taken?

Who would take a life for convenience or satisfaction? I don’t think the United Sates Government would take ANY life for convenience or satisfaction. But do I believe that Saddam and Osama should face the consequences for their atrocities, yes. Would the death penalty be un-reasonable, not at all. There are laws meant for our good, not evil, and when they are broken there are consequences. Again, I believe God gives the government the “authority” to sentence a criminal to death (Romans 13) If you see something different in those verses, I’m open for discussion. I don’t claim infallibility.

“We execute to punish; to slake our thirst for revenge. Not to protect. Not to deter.” Ever think it might be to execute justice not to slake some rabid thirst for revenge? “We execute to punish, not to deter.” Where do you get that from? Is that in some governmental form that you have read concerning the reasons the US government uses capital punishment? Who said they don’t use it to deter? For every expert that says it’s not a deterrent, there is another expert saying it is. For example: I have inquired for most of my adult life about studies that might show that the death penalty is a deterrent, and I have not seen any research that would substantiate that point.
-- Attorney General Janet Reno, January 20, 2000

All of the scientifically valid statistical studies—those that examine a period of years, and control for national trends—consistently show that capital punishment is a substantial deterrent.
-- Senator Orrin Hatch, October 16, 2002

So, I guess that argument can be used on both sides. I wonder if there is really any serious objective research in that area.

Thanks for the stimulating conversation. I enjoy having my opinions challenged and challenging others as well.

Love ya,