Currie & Casper
Viewpoint: Should We Abolish the Death Penalty?
by David Currie
I have never supported the death penalty in any form at any time in my life. This is not a political position for me but a position that comes from my Christian faith. I just do not understand how Christians who believe that Christ can change anyone can support “killing people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong.”’
In 1979 I wrote a pamphlet against capital punishment that was mailed to every Baptist church in North Carolina at the request of the state convention. I’m sure I could find that pamphlet somewhere but I remember my points well.
Capital punishment was in the news recently when the state of Nebraska, which has a Republican governor and a republican legislature voted to abolish the death penalty. They did so for practical reasons and I’ll discuss them first and then share my opposition based on my Christian faith.
Marc Hyden of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, said in reference to the vote in Nebraska, “The question they need to ask themselves is, do they trust an error-prone government to fairly, efficiently and properly administer a program that metes out death to its citizens? I think the answer to that is a resounding no.” Conservatives voted to abolish the death penalty as a vote “against Big Government.”
The facts about the death penalty are very straight-forward.
The death penalty is not a deterrent to murder. In fact, many of the states that have not had a death penalty in years have lower murder rates than states that do execute people. From 1991 through 2013, non-death penalty states had a lower murder rate than death penalty states EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Most murders are crimes of passion and murders committed in anger are not done by thinking people.
There is no doubt that innocent people have been executed. With the growth of DNA, some sitting on death row have been found to be innocent. How can any Christian support a system that kills innocent people from time to time?
Executing someone is much more expensive than “life without parole.” It is very expensive to execute a person. As it should be, the legal system makes it difficult to execute someone trying to make sure the person is truly guilty. It uses much less taxpayer money to keep someone in prison for life than to execute someone.
But the biggest issue for me is playing God with people’s lives. I am a pro-life Democrat. I don’t support abortion. I think it is totally inconsistent for conservatives to be anti-abortion and pro-capital punishment just as it is totally inconsistent for liberals to be pro-abortion and anti-capital punishment. If you are pro-life, you ought to be PRO-LIFE!!!
And finally I do not believe in capital punishment because God changes lives. I watch Karla Faye Tucker interviewed by Larry King. She was executed in Texas on February 3, 1998. She was the first woman in Texas executed since 1863. She committed a horrible crime under the influence of drugs, but when I saw her on TV, she absolutely GLOWED with the Spirit of Christ. The 700 Club interviewed her as well. You can find her interviews online and I urge you to watch them and pray about your feelings regarding the death penalty. I lost all respect for George W. Bush as a Christian when he allowed her murder by the state of Texas to go forward.
Imagine the witness for Christ she could have been in prison and in interviews had she been allowed to live.
Last month, Georgia also executed a woman who had found Christ, Kelly Gissendaner. As a Christian, I just do not think it is a strong witness that America, which has millions of Christians, is the one remaining civilized country in the world that still executes people. It is embarrassing to me as a believer in Christ.
David R. Currie is the new Tom Green Democratic Chair. David is a native of Paint Rock in Concho County where family came in 1879, and continues to ranch there as well as in the Christoval area where he and his wife Loretta live. Married for over 30 years, they have a blended family of 5 children and 10 grandchildren.
He is a graduate of Howard Payne University and also has masters and doctors degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminiary in Fort Worth where he did his doctoral work on agricultural policy and the Bible and received his degree in Christian Ethics.
He is a former pastor, staff member of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission which focuses on ethical issues and religious liberty and retired Executive Director of Texas Baptist Committed. He was also sheep and goat specialist with the Texas Department of Agriculture in the 80's when Jim Hightower was Ag. Commissioner.
David is the author of two books, On the Way and Songs in the Desert as well as hundreds of articles that can be found at www.txbc.org.
He is currently the president of Cornerstone Builders and Angelo Granite Worx, and managing partner of Stonewall Ranches development company. He has served three terms as president of the San Angelo Home Builders Association, served on the Better Business Bureau board, as a board member of Howard Payne University, The Interfaith Alliance, The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and is current Vice-chair of the San Angelo Adult Literacy Council. He and Loretta are members of Southland Baptist Church.
by Ken Casper
My short answer is yes, right after we abolish abortion.
Isn’t it strange that there are people, mostly on the left, who are adamantly against the death penalty even for heinous crimes, but they’re all right with taking the lives of the most innocent and helpless members of society. Save the life of Jeffry Dahmer, but kill the inconvenient little baby growing in a mother’s womb. They’re probably the same people who don’t have a problem with taxpayers picking up the tab for sex change operations for murderers sentenced to life in prison or cutting up unborn or barely born infants for body parts.
There are essentially three reasons for imposing a sentence of death. First, the punishment should fit the crime. The overwhelming majority of people on death row are murderers. Since there can be no restitution when a life is taken, as there is with theft, for instance, a killer must forfeit his own. Second, some crimes are so depraved that those who commit them, like Dahmer, can’t be safely trusted to ever be rehabilitated. Third, society has a right to defend itself, therefore a killer who has demonstrated extreme depravity—Dahmer, again—cannot be trusted, even behind bars.
Opponents of the death penalty advance far less compelling arguments against it, such as . . .
The death penalty doesn’t deter crime. This, of course, is utter nonsense. Not deter crime? It’s the ultimate deterrent. Dead men don’t go on rampages and kill again. We don’t give “X” a traffic ticket to teach “Y” a lesson. We “X” a ticket to teach “X” a lesson. What isn’t a deterrent to crime is a prison sentence. Prisoners, especially murderers, kill other prisoners. After all, what do they have to lose? By the way, what “Y” learned from seeing “X” get a prison sentence for murder is that he can kill and get away with it.
Executing criminals is more costly than permanent incarceration. This is a really absurd argument. Prisoners cost the taxpayers about $25,000 a year in basic maintenance, plus medical expenses, plus the costs of their continuing appeals and legal actions, many of which are frivolous. As a result, it currently takes an average of twenty-two years to carry out a death sentence.
Charles Manson was convicted of capital murder in 1971—even though he didn’t personally kill a single person—and was sentenced to die. In 1972 the California Supreme Court temporarily eliminated the death penalty. His sentence was then automatically commuted to life in prison. He’s been there ever since (he’s now over 80). You can’t tell me keeping him alive for more than forty years in a maximum security prison to the tune of at least $1,000,000 is cheaper than what a lungful of poison gas would have cost 44 years ago—or that his imprisonment is more just.
Death sentence opponents argue that we might execute an innocent person. Yes, it’s happened, but it’s extremely rare. About 4% of those condemned to die turn out to be innocent and are released. Only about .027% of those actually executed are arguably innocent. But if you’re looking for perfection in a human institution, you’re wasting your time.
Execution is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore violates the constitution, opponents of the death sentence maintain. Another spurious argument. The death sentence certainly isn’t unusual; it’s been imposed in every society and culture from time immemorial. Cruel? We have gone to extraordinary lengths to insure the condemned don’t suffer. In the case of lethal injection, they simply go to sleep. Historical note: The Guillotine was invented as a humanitarian measure, since it severed the head cleanly and instantly. Until then, drunken executioners often had to take several swings with their axes. Just thought you’d like to know.
Now consider the ramifications of keeping capital criminals alive. The families of the victims, the witnesses at the trial, everyone associated with the case, including the judge and jurors, are denied peace because of the constant threat of the condemned taking vengeance, either from prison or by escaping. There is no final resolution, no closure, as long as the convicted felon is alive. That’s the real cruel and unusual punishment, and once again the innocent are the victims.
There is today an unfortunate and unnatural sympathy in this country for the perpetrators of crimes instead of its victims. Liberals excuse these “bad actors” because they are mentally disturbed, the casualties of poverty, broken homes, bad environments, bad schools, bad influences. All those things may be true, but none of them justifies the commission of murder and mayhem or relieves the perpetrators of guilt for them. Inviting cop-killer, Abu Jamal, to give a college commencement speech sends the wrong message.
Should the death sentence be abolished? In an ideal world, there would be no capital punishment. Killers and traitors would be rehabilitated and returned to society as productive members. But then, in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any killers or traitors. Until then, we need the death sentence as an option.
Ken Casper was born and raised in New York City a long time ago. After graduating from college, he entered the Air Force and was assigned to Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for training. He served overseas tours of duty in Japan, Vietnam and Germany, as well as stateside assignments. He retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1993 and from Civil Service at Goodfellow in 1997. In 1998 he published his first novel, A Man Called Jesse. Twenty-four books followed, including Upstairs at Miss Hattie’s. During those years he became good friends with Dr. Pres Darby. In 2011, shortly before Pres’s death from ALS, they published a joint novel, Mankillers, a Civil War thriller. Since then, Ken has published three Jason Crow mysteries set in West Texas.
A staunch conservative, Ken was the second president of the San Angelo TEA Party, 2010-2011. He has remained active in local politics ever since.