Saturday, March 17, 2012

Help abolish the death penalty

When we look back in time to 150 years ago, we wonder how Americans could have condoned slavery. How could we have been so cruel and wrong in our thinking, in our everyday lives?
When we look back on 2012 from 150 years from now we will feel the same way about imprisoning huge numbers of people, and even allowing our government employees to murder them. We will ask, "How could we have been so wrong in our thinking" and we will agree that reforming our justice system was painful but necessary. 
I oppose the death penalty and hope to persuade you to also. If you already oppose the death penalty, feel free to share this and try to persuade them, and skip ahead to the last paragraph for suggestions about actions you can take.
I read a good article in Sojourners Magazine today (you have to register for free).  As the author notes, the pragmatic arguments to oppose the death penalty are simple: 
  • Capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. 
  • Death sentences are disproportionately handed down to people of color, or to people convicted of killing someone white. 
  • It is a staggeringly expensive process for states.

But 6 out of every 10 people in America believe that it is necessary and just for the government to murder our fellow citizens.  60%.
Some people think that murder victims, (survivors, family, loved ones) feel better, get "closure" because of the death penalty. Most say that they simply do not. Can you imagine losing a loved one to murder, then getting over it? Survivors have to live for decades while legal hearings continue and they are called on again and again to testify about the pain caused by the murder of their loved ones. Would a sentence of life without parole and no more hearings provide better opportunities for healing?
We all know our government makes mistakes. 140 people have been freed from death row after having been found innocent. 
Public opinion is changing in favor of abolishing the death penalty. As the article says" the voices of innocent people nearly put to death for crimes they did not commit are ultimately what will turn the tide against the death penalty: “That’s what’s beginning to create the change of opinion. When the punishment is irreversible, nothing but perfection is acceptable. We can certainly improve the system, but we can never guarantee that we can make the system perfect.”
So please join me by working in your state to abolish the death penalty. Share these articles or this blog. Attend meetings of people who also want to abolish it. Write letters to your political leaders and local newspapers. Talk to people in your church and community. 
Be part of the wave of people working to end this medieval abomination. 

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