For readers of “Great” Thoughts, I’ve subscribed to a site called Plinky that provides daily writing prompts. The prompt that generated this answer was:
“Do you believe in the death penalty? Defend your answer.
I’m against the death penalty in all cases. I hold this position as a Christian. Jesus, himself was faced with a capital case in form of the woman taken in adultery. As in any legal case, there are two questions: fact and law. The question of fact, did she do the deed, was not in dispute. She was caught in the act. The question of law, what does the law say about such acts, was also not in dispute. Mosaic law called for her to be stoned.
Now, Jesus said he would not strike one letter from the law, and he was true to his word. He didn’t strike a letter. He added a sentence: “Let him who is sinless cast the first stone.” (So I guess, by this standard, I can support the death penalty as long as the executioner is sinless.)
Now, as someone who believes in the separation of Church and State, my religious reasoning should not carry the day on a matter of secular law. I need a secular reason as well. So here are my secular reasons:
1) Our legal system is far from perfect, and an execution cannot be corrected.
2) Capitol punishment does not deter crime.
3) Extremely dangerous offenders can be securely removed from society into maximum security and super-max prisons. There are plenty of technologies that can be brought to bear to ensure that someone given life without parole serves out that sentence.
In general I just think the death penalty is bad for us as a society. It is a function of fear, anger, and vengefulness. In my experience, those are not good things on which to model one’s individual or civic life.