September 20, 2011

The Death Penalty and Troy Davis

Over the past week, the movement to stop Troy Davis' execution has gained traction around the country, particularly through social media.  Most people are protesting because there doesn't seem to be much evidence supporting Davis' conviction.   The only evidence tying Davis to the crime is the testimony of 9 witnesses--7 of which have changed or recanted their accounts.

At the time of this post, Mr. Davis has been denied clemency by the Georgia Pardons Board and is scheduled to be executed in a little over 24 hours.

I wish Troy Davis' case didn't come down to last minute appeals.  There shouldn't be time constraints on proving a person's innocence.  Here are a few reasons I don't support the death penalty:

1. - I don't believe that executions are the truest expression of God's perspective of justice here on earth.  My views are mostly summed up by what Jesus says here as well as this passage:

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." - James 2:12-13

We can't let our anger lead us to forcefully and permanently preclude someone from having another opportunity to receive God's grace.

2. - Even the most remote possibility of executing an innocent person is too much of a risk to take.  Why risk killing an innocent person when you can effectively protect the public by imprisoning those convicted of crimes?  

3. - The death penalty does nothing to deter future murders or other violent acts.  These crimes are usually prompted by out of control emotions and a disregard for human life.  A fear of punishment is the last thing going through the mind of a would-be murderer. 

I've lost a family member to murder and I know the anger and desire for revenge that can come with that.  But I don't think that those emotions should form the basis for determining what justice is in our society.

How do you feel about the death penalty?  What shapes your perspective?
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