Thursday, May 31, 2012


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When we talk about the death penalty there are several things that come to mind. The three most significant are those concerning the penalties cost versus those of life with out possibility of parole, the second being concerns of executing an innocent person, and the final major area of concern is Christianity and how it is against Christian beliefs. This paper will give cover some of the factual details on the death penalty and where it stands today.

The death penalty and life without the possibility of parole have many differences. The average time spent in jail for a person serving a LWOP term is 50 years (life expectancy of average person in jail). While on the other hand the average time spent in jail by a person on death row is 6 years. The most significant of the differences is the cost of each one. LWOP’s total cost averages around $.8 million and the average cost of the death penalty is $1.88 million. (These numbers are according to the U.S. Vital Statistics and the LWOP does not include care for older patients in prison or the treatment of such diseases as hepatitis and HIV. Both amounts do include the cost of pre-trial and appeals cost.) According to Time Magazine issue date February 7, 14 says that Texas has the largest amounts of people serving on death row. Texas has set the standard for making murders pay for what they have done by wrongly taking the life of another person. If all states followed guidelines that Texas has set our costs for prisoners might go down. So George Bush wasn’t only doing what he thought was morally right in Texas he was helping tax costs go down by being a major supporter of the death penalty. Economically the death penalty is better because not only does it save tax dollars but it also decreases prison population.

Another area of major concern is the possibility of executing an innocent person. Now according to capital punishment statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) since 17 many laws have been passed so many in fact that over 7% of death penalty involved cases have been thrown out of court for reasons of due process. Another thing concerning the execution of innocent victim’s antagonist of the death penalty like to throw in the air is that innocent people have executed since the 100s. However there is no evidence proving this number. Most opponents of the death penalty do not focus on the facts rather they listen to opinion. This does not hold up when presenting any case. The cases they say were innocently executed most of what they are calling evidence is from statements made by the person executed. The concern however slight it is has been even further decreased by the Furman v. Georgia case of 17 Dudley sharps says “The relevant question is Is the risk of executing the innocent, however slight, worth the justifications for the death penalty - those being retribution, rehabilitation, incapacitation, required punishment, deterrence, escalating punishments, religious mandates, cost savings, the moral imperative, just punishment and the saving of innocent lives? “ Thousands of innocent people die from being murdered every year. The death penalty sends out a very important message to others considering killing someone it says that it’s not alright to kill someone and if you do it you will pay the ultimate price, your life. Hyman Barshay wrote a poem comparing the death penalty to the light house it is as follows “The death penalty is a warning, just like a lighthouse throwing its beams out to sea. We hear about shipwrecks, but we do not hear about the ships the lighthouse guides safely on their way. We do not have proof of the number of ships it saves, but we do not tear the lighthouse down.” So the lives we save because of the enforcement of our death penalty because it deters some future killers from killing. The death penalty is very rarely given according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics only about .06% of murder cases are actually given the death penalty. We see that the death penalty is a rare judgment and it is not likely given unless they jury and the judge believe that there is significant evidence to convict the person of murder.

Of the three one concerns discussed in this report the one of most concern involves Christianity and how the death penalty is the same thing as murder. But is it really? There are many Christians who believe that executing a criminal whose crimes were so horrible that they were sentenced to death, still believe the government is a killer as well. Let’s look at some actual Bible verses and interpretations from some significant religious leaders. Dr. Charles Ryrie author of Biblical Answers to Contemporary Issues says the “Thou shall not murder” does not include the government and there is in fact nothing in Bible that says if the crime is so harsh that the death is the punishment not says the government may not do so. Another view comes from Professor Michael Pakluk who states “That Christ be put to death as a guilty person, presupposes that death is a fitting punishment for those who are guilty.” (The Death Penalty An Opposing View Points Series, 11) Exodus 18 says, Wrongdoers thou shalt not suffer to live.” Many religious leaders believe that if it is for the good of society then the execution should be carried through. Even some convicted murders agree with the death penalty. One such criminal was Dennis Gentry who was convicted of killing one of his friends is quoted as saying I’d like to thank the Lord for the past 14 years (on death row) to grow as a man and mature enough to accept what’s happening here tonight. To my family, I’m happy. I’m going home to Jesus. As the lethal drugs began to flow, Gentry cried out, Sweet Jesus, here I come. Take me home. I’m going that way to see the Lord. (Michael Gracyk, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, 4/17/7) So as you can see even some of the convicted murders feel like they would have never met the Lord, if they would have not been sentenced to death row. The Bible also gives another verse giving the government power, If you do what is evil, be afraid; for [the civil government] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is the minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon those who practice evil. Romans 14. (Interpreted by Dr. Ryrie) There are so many ways to prove that this not against Christian beliefs one of the most significant that I came across in my studying of this was when Pope Pius XII said, When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live. Many Christians sometimes like to create their own god, that is create a god that they believe that the way they see things is the way their god should see things. But our God shows us through many verses that if the crime is so great and the person is bad for our society then death is the only appropriate punishment.

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The death penalty is a very controversial topic in today’s time. Many people will agree with it, while others oppose for so many different types of reasons. My backing is for the death penalty 100%. The most significant thing that sticks out in my mind is the cost of life with out possibility parole versus the cost of death row. I don’t think murders can be released back out into society I don’t think sexual offenders should be released either. The threat is just too great to even risk another victim being hurt. Another thing to remember is that when someone who opposes the death penalty says that innocent people have lost theirs lives because they were sentenced to death, just make sure you ask for their factual proof to show that an innocent person died. With all the factual evidence that there is out there in the death penalties favor, I have to ask myself should we do away with the death penalty? I think not. If a criminal can not be

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