State Sanctioned Murder
Is killing another human being justified? The answer is yes. If society can not be protected from the offender in any other possible, less drastic way. As in the case of the Fort Hood killer, due to his outside contacts, his probability of commiting another terroristic act, and the depravity of his crime make him a continuing danger to society, he can not be left to further harm society. If this is the only way that this goal can be secured is by the taking of his life, his life must be taken and is justified.
I do not not know which of the two, the death penalty or life imprisonment, is the harsher punishment. What I do believe is that except in exceptional cases such as the above, the decision of when one should die should be left to God.
Society teaches the following values:
1. Sanctions and revenge-evil for evil
2. The death penalty weakens, hardens and the God given natural horror of bloodshed:
Mans natural reaction to killing another human being is revulsion, but if we are exposed to it over and over we become complacent.
3. It facilitates and insures the escape of the guilty from punishment by human law:
Juries dread to convict when they know the penalty is death. Human judgement is infallible. Human testimony can be misleading or witnesses can lie. Through the character of the death penalty, hundreds of innocents suffer an excrutiating death at the hands of the state.
4. It generates sympathy for the convicted:
We should be merciful to the sinful and guilty. The fact that executions take place in private shows that the state realizes that executions are in no way a deterrant and are shameful in and of themselves.
5. It is more than the truth that executions are "state sanctioned murders" :
They make us as equally guilty as the one whose life we have chosen to take. The commandment "Thou shall not kill" references no difference between the killer and the state.
The wrongly convicted and the exonerated
Though I do realize there are those who deserve the death penalty I also realize there are those who have been wrongly convicted. In the past several years there have been many who have been exonerated and proven innocent, many after serving years in prison.
How do you give them back the years that was unjustly taken from them? Money can not replace the losses they have suffered. Many of their wives or husbands have divorced them and moved on. Their children have grown up while they were away. They have missed births, weddings, and graduations. many have lost family members who passed on while they were unjustly incarcerated. Compensation can not replace any of this.
The wrongly executed
Another group paid the ultimate price without deserving it. The ones who were wrongly executed. What do we say to their families? "I'm sorry". It's too little, too late. We can not bring them back. Their deaths are permanent as is their families pain.
Before you put someone to death it needs to be crystal clear with out any doubt that they are guilty and deserving of this harshest punishment. as I said, you can not bring them back or repay the life that was taken.
Two examples from Texas where I live and where we are called "Texas the execution chamber".
Carlos De Luna was executed with the state knowing he was innocent. The priest who presided over the executions to help keep the prisoner calm resigned after this happened, for this reason.
Camron Todd Willingham, a case notorious in Texas was also executed with the state and governor knowing he was innocent. He was accused of setting fire to his home and burning his children to death. The proof of his innocence was given to the governor who refused a stay.
After carmons execution when questioned the governor replied: "he was a bad man, he beat his wife, he drank too much, we got rid of a bad man".
If we execute people for drinking too much and being a bad man, there would be many others to suffer this same fate.
So in conclusion, maybe we should think of life or life without parole. It would at least spare other who are truly innocent from this fate.